Spanish prosecutors have been pursuing footballers for tax evasion that has typically been linked to income from image rights. One of these players is Samuel Eto'o, the Cameroon international, who was with Real Mallorca between 2000 and 2004.
The prosecution service in Barcelona (Eto'o played for Barcelona from 2004 to 2009) is calling for a ten and a half year prison sentence and a fine of 14.3 million euros for the alleged defrauding of 3.8 million euros of tax for the period 2006 to 2009. The prosecutor, Ricardo Sanz-Gadea, argues that Eto'o used the two companies - one in Spain and the other based in Hungary - to avoid declaring revenues derived from image rights; these are said to have amounted to nine million euros.
These revenues should have been declared through his personal tax declarations and would have been liable to 45% tax. Instead, Spanish corporation tax of between 30% and 35% applied as did a far lower rate of 10% in Hungary. In addition, substantial amounts of taxable increase are said to have been reduced by deductions made for real estate and vehicles. Ultimately, claims the prosecutor, Eto'o made no declaration of revenues from image rights.
The administrators of the two companies - Bulte 2002 Empresarial and Tradesport and Marketing (the Hungarian one) - face sentences as well. The prosecutor has called for the same sentence as Eto'o to apply to José María Mesalles, who was the player's agent, and a lower one of five years and eight months (plus a 2.25 million euro fine) for Jesús Lastre Abreu.
The case against Eto'o has been ongoing for some years. In 2012 he told a Barcelona court that management of his accounts was done by Mesalles.
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