Ex-Barcelona star Samuel Eto’o handed 22-month suspended prison sentence after defrauding Spanish government of £3.3m

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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.

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Samuel Eto’o received a two-year suspended sentence for tax evasion[/caption]

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.

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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.

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.

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