Earlier this week, Real Madrid and Portuguese football star Cristiano Ronaldo appeared before a Spanish court to deny that he has evaded taxes in the country.
Nearly two months ago, Ronaldo was accused of evading close to 14.7 million Euros in taxes from 2011 to 2014.
Ronaldo told the court, “I have never hidden anything, nor have I had the intention of evading taxes.”
“I always voluntarily file my tax returns because I think we all must file a return and pay taxes according to our income. Those that know me, know what I ask my advisors: that they have everything up to date and properly paid, because I don’t want problems,” he said.
Furthermore, Ronaldo said via a statement read by one of his attorneys, “When I signed for Real Madrid, I did not create a special structure to manage my image rights, I just kept the way they were managed when I was in England…The lawyers who were recommended to me by Manchester United created it in 2004, long before I thought of coming to live in Spain. The structure was normal in England, accepted by the English tax authority who ratified it as legal.”
Prosecutors Allege Cristiano Ronaldo Used Shell Companies
Prosecutors, however, believe Ronaldo took “advantage of a company structure created in 2010 to hide income generated in Spain from his image rights from tax authorities,” and partook in a “voluntary and conscious breach of his fiscal obligations in Spain.”
They accuse the Real Madrid star of using shell companies in the BVI and Ireland to circumvent tax payments, under-declaring his income in Spain by more than 30 million Euros between 2011 and 2014, and failing to include close to 29 million Euros in income made from the sale of his image rights for the period spanning from 2015 to 2020.
Spain’s tax authorities allege that, if found guilty, Cristiano Ronaldo could face between three-and-a-half and seven years in prison and a fine amounting to roughly 28 million Euros.
Ultimately, however, the penalty imposed depends entirely on the judge’s decision.
According to Spanish sports daily AS, “The judge could dee
m the circumstances to be extenuating, and as per a law introduced in 2013, reduce the sentence by half, or to a quarter, if Ronaldo pays the €14.7m plus a fine and interest.”
Furthermore, AS said, “The Portuguese winger would need to accept the offences, and show willingness to take part in a ‘special collaboration’ with the Spanish justice system to clear up the facts.”
Gestha, the Syndicate of Technicians of the Spanish Ministry of Finance, claims that Ronaldo’s case is a lot more complicated and serious than Lionel Messi’s.
According to Gestha, “There are rational signs showing that Cristiano’s fraud is a lot more severe than that of Messi. It’s at least three times larger.”
Cristiano Ronaldo Attacks His Detractors in Tax Evasion Case
A day following his declaration before judge Mónica Gómez, a defiant Ronaldo posted on his Instagram account (which is followed by more than 107 million fans) a photo with the caption: “What bothers people is my shine, insects only attack those lamps that shine bright!”
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane commented that the Portuguese star would be back with the team at the end of the week.
“He’ll be with us on the fifth [of August] and I hope that, after that day, this topic is closed. I don’t believe these things hurt him. He’s happy because it’s over. Now he’s calm about the topic of football, he wants to play and he’ll be with us on the fifth,” Zidane said.
All translations from Spanish and Portuguese are the author’s.