SAMUEL ETO’O has received a 22-month suspended prison sentence after pleading guilty to tax fraud.
The former Chelsea star, 41, admits defrauding the Public Treasury of £3.3million between 2006 and 2009, while he was at Barcelona.
Eto’o previously blamed his agent Jose Maria Mesalles for the tax evasion – who has also been given a one-year suspended prison sentence.
In court, Eto’o referred to Mesalles as a father figure, saying: “I admit the facts and I will pay, but let it be known that I was a child then and that I always did what my father asked me to do.”
Eto’o has partially repaid the fee he owes and has been ordered to pay a further £1.5m in fines, and Mesalles £776,000.
The Cameroonian failed to pay tax on the income he received from the transfer of his image rights from Puma to Barcelona between 2006 and 2009.
Instead, he taxed the image rights through two companies, one of which was based abroad in Hungary – so did not pay the full amount of Spanish tax required.
And Eto’o previously argued Mesalles was responsible as he looked after his finances.
Mesalles has previous form for fraud and was convicted on criminal charges of tax fraud, swindling and embezzlement after Eto’o brought a civil case against him.
The judge also ruled Mesalles had to pay Eto’o £15.4m in damages – but it was never paid.
Samuel Eto’o has been given a 22-month suspended prison sentence for tax fraud of £3.32million.
According to Sport, the former Barcelona and Inter Milan striker admitted the offence but alleges that he was a victim of manipulation by his former agent Jose Maria Mesalles.
The fraud relates to Eto’o failing to declare income derived from the transfer of image rights to Puma and Barcelona in his personal income tax return between 2006 and 2009.
Instead, he taxed the image rights through two companies – one in Hungary and one in Spain – so he was not taxed as heavily.
In a statement, the 41-year-old said he would repay all of the money but sought to put the responsibility on Mesalles, who he viewed as a father at the time of the offenses.
‘It was my father who took care of the child I was then,’ Eto’o said. ‘I’m going to pay but I’ve always done what my father told me I had to do.
Eto’o was 25 years old at the start of the offenses and was midway through his spell at the Nou Camp.
Sport reported that the prosecution asked for sentences of four years and six months for Eto’o and Mesalles before the former was given 22 months and the latter one year. As neither have previous criminal records, they will not serve time in prison.
It is added that the former Cameroon international will pay an additional sum of £1.56million in fines and Mesalles will pay £776,000.
Eto’o had a very successful period at the Nou Camp between 2004- 2009, scoring 130 goals in 199 games.
He won the Champions League twice and LaLiga three times.
Eto’o was also named the African Player of the Year in 2004 and 2005.