Football: Real back Ronaldo amid tax fraud claims

The European Investigative Collaborations consortium claimed that a data leak involving 18 million documents showed Cristiano Ronaldo hid €150 million (S$228.25 million) from image rights in the British Virgin Islands.
The European Investigative Collaborations consortium claimed that a data leak involving 18 million documents showed Cristiano Ronaldo hid €150 million (S$228.25 million) from image rights in the British Virgin Islands.PHOTO: REUTERS

MADRID • Real Madrid launched a staunch defence of Cristiano Ronaldo on Tuesday, demanding respect for the three-time World Player of the Year amid allegations he hid millions earned from image rights in tax havens.

"Real Madrid demand the maximum respect for a player like Cristiano Ronaldo, whose behaviour has been exemplary during his entire time at our club," the Spanish club said in a statement.

The European Investigative Collaborations (EIC) consortium on Friday claimed that a data leak involving 18 million documents showed the Portuguese hid €150 million (S$228.25 million) from image rights in the British Virgin Islands. Ronaldo, 31, has strongly denied the claims in a statement via Gestifute, the firm controlled by his agent Jorge Mendes.

"Cristiano Ronaldo has always acted in good faith in this matter, as the fact that he has never been involved in any conflict with the tax authorities from any country where he has lived clearly shows," said Gestifute.

Gestifute also released a tax return issued by the Spanish tax agency showing Ronaldo is up to date with his obligations.

"The certificate released by the Spanish tax agency which shows our player Cristiano Ronaldo is up to date with all his tax obligations," added the Real statement.

Ronaldo is just one of a few Real players to have been accused by the "Football Leaks" investigation. Spanish newspaper El Mundo accused Portuguese defenders Pepe and Fabio Coentrao of selling their image rights to companies in the British Virgin Islands and Panama respectively.

Gestifute has also defended Jose Mourinho, another client of Mendes, by saying that the Manchester United manager paid more than €26 million in taxes while living in Spain.

According to the EIC, Mourinho is said to have "concealed €12 million in a Swiss account owned by a British Virgin Islands company".

Gestifute insisted that "the Spanish government, through its tax authorities, have certified" that the Portuguese coach "is up to date with his tax obligations".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 08, 2016, with the headline 'Real back Ronaldo amid tax fraud claims'. Print Edition | Subscribe