Cristiano Ronaldo Accused Of Being A Serious Tax Cheat

Ross Houston
June 26, 2017

The world's highest-paid sports star had previously said he was not anxious about tax investigations as he had nothing to hide.

Spain's prosecutor's office in Madrid has filed a tax fraud lawsuit against the Portuguese footballer.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Madrid's regional state prosecutor charged Ronaldo, 32, with four counts of tax fraud from 2011 to 2014.

Ronaldo, the four-time Ballon d'Or victor, is accused of using "business structures" in Ireland and the British Virgin Islands to hide almost €150 million ($168 million) in income he earned through selling the rights to his image.

Ronaldo's agency previously said the soccer star's taxes were up to date, but just last month Ronaldo adjusted his tax declarations and paid an additional $6.7 million for 2014.

The 32-year-old Ronaldo, a four-time Ballon d'Or victor, is arguably Europe's leading football player. Ronaldo has also told journalists he has nothing to hide.

"There is no off shore structure for evading taxes", Gestifute said in a statement.

Ronaldo took legal advantage of what is known in Spain as "the Beckham law" - which allows foreign sport stars to pay 24.75% income tax rather than the 48% applied to Spanish nationals. The 4-time Ballon d'Or winner's Real Madrid side won the La Liga title and Champions League at the tail end of May, which likely cemented his case for a fifth Ballon d'Or. In 2016, it was suggested by a German MEP that he was using an Irish company to dump money, thereby avoiding higher taxes in Spain.

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi was convicted of tax fraud for unpaid income from image rights a year ago, but he is not expected to serve prison time since it was his first offense.

Messi was found guilty last year and sentenced to 21 months in jail, although never spent a single day behind bars due to the way that Spain's justice system allows for any sentence under two years to be spent on probation.

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