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    Barcelona defender Gerard Pique handed EUR2.1 million tax bill

    MADRID (AFP) – Barcelona’s Gerard Pique will be forced to pay EUR2.1 million (USD2.36 million) to Spain’s tax authorities after his conviction for rights-image fraud was confirmed, a legal source told AFP on Wednesday.

    According to a May 13 decision, the country’s National Court rejected Pique’s appeal against the 2016 sentence which required the former Spain international to pay EUR1.5 million in tax arrears and a EUR600,000 fine. The tribunal concluded Pique had faked the handover of his rights images to his Kerad Project company to pay less tax for 2008, 2009 and 2010.

    Pique, a World Cup and European Championships winner retains the right to appeal to Spain’s supreme court.

    The verdict came a month after his wife, Colombian musician Shakira, was questioned by a judge near the Catalan city over alleged evasion of EUR14.5 million in taxes.

    Her press team released a statement in which they said the artiste was innocent.

    The centre-back’s former teammate at the Camp Nou, Neymar, is under investigation by Spain’s fiscal authorities over a bonus he received at Barca as well as his world-record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain.

    Another of Pique’s fellow club squad members Lionel Messi, paid a two-million-euro fine in 2016 in his own tax wrangle and received a 21-month jail term.

    The prison sentence was later reduced to a further fine of EUR252,000, equivalent to EUR400 per day of the original term.

    A Spanish court in January handed Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo a suspended two-year prison sentence for committing tax fraud when he was at Real Madrid.

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