Ronaldo fined, not jailed for tax fraud

Cristiano Ronaldo arriving at the court hearing in Madrid yesterday along with his partner Georgina Rodriguez.
Cristiano Ronaldo arriving at the court hearing in Madrid yesterday along with his partner Georgina Rodriguez.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MADRID • Portugal and Juventus footballer Cristiano Ronaldo has admitted to committing tax fraud while playing for Real Madrid and agreed to pay an €18.8 million (S$29 million) fine after striking a deal with prosecutors and tax authorities in return for a 23-month suspended prison sentence.

Ronaldo, 33, had been accused of defrauding the authorities of €14.8 million in unpaid taxes between 2011 and 2014.

In 2017, Madrid's regional state prosecutor alleged that the player had used what it deemed to be a shell company in the Virgin Islands to "create a screen in order to hide his total income from Spain's tax office".

It said Ronaldo intentionally did not declare income of €28.4 million related to image rights, and declared only €11.5 million of earnings from 2011 to 2014 when his real income was almost €43 million.

The prosecutor also alleged that the forward falsely reported income as coming from real estate, which it said had greatly reduced his tax rate.

Ronaldo arrived in court in Madrid yesterday morning, wearing sunglasses and a black blazer while accompanied by his partner Georgina Rodriguez.

His request to enter the provincial court through an underground car park was denied.

  • $29million 

  • Fine Cristiano Ronaldo will pay, in return for a 23-month suspended prison sentence, for tax fraud he committed when he was still a Real Madrid player.

"I am very well," the five-time Ballon d'Or winner told reporters outside the court after the brief hearing.

The hearing came six months after Ronaldo agreed a deal that would see him spared jail if he paid fines totalling almost €19 million.

In Spain, a judge can suspend sentences of two years or less for first-time offenders.

Meanwhile, the trial of Ronaldo's former Real teammate Xabi Alonso, also in court yesterday over accusations of tax fraud, was suspended, a court magistrate said.

Prosecutors were seeking a five-year jail sentence and a fine of €4 million for the Spaniard, who retired as a player in 2017, accusing him of defrauding the Spanish state of some €2 million between 2010 and 2012.

Alonso said he was confident he had not committed a crime and would have to wait while the magistrates evaluated his case.

"I'd be worried if I thought I had something to hide or something I didn't do right but, as that isn't the case, I am carrying on," Alonso told reporters.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2019, with the headline 'Ronaldo fined, not jailed for tax fraud'. Print Edition | Subscribe