Madrid - Juventus
star Cristiano Ronaldo avoided jail on Tuesday, but was ordered by a
Spanish court to pay €3.57 million for committing
tax fraud when at Real Madrid, part of a broader €18.8 million
Sporting sunglasses and a smile, accompanied by his girlfriend
Georgina Rodriguez, Ronaldo arrived at the court in northeastern Madrid
for a brief hearing.
He was handed a two-year jail sentence immediately reduced to a fine
of €365 000 and another penalty of €3.2 million, according to
Accused of having avoided paying €5.7 million in taxes due on
his image rights between 2011 and 2014, Ronaldo has already paid the
taxman €6.7 million for what he owed plus interest, the sentence
That - plus the court fine - comes to more than €10 million.
In June, the player's lawyers and Spain's taxman came to an agreement
that Ronaldo would pay a grand total of €18.8 million.
That amount was not mentioned in the sentence, but a source at the
court, who refused to be named, said Ronaldo would have to pay €18.8
million (R300 million) in total, giving no further details.
Contacted by AFP, tax authorities, prosecutors and lawyers representing Ronaldo refused to provide any information.
It is unclear whether the remaining amount is a separate administrative fine.
"I am very well," the five-time
Ballon d'Or winner told the crowd of reporters gathered outside of the
court as he left the hearing. He signed a few autographs before leaving
in a black van.
The court refused the player's request to appear by video or to enter the building by car to avoid the spotlight.
Ronaldo, who last year joined Italian champions Juventus, smiled
broadly as he arrived at the court dressed in black trousers, a black
turtleneck and dark sunglasses, holding hands with Rodriguez.
Police officers escorted him.
He had played for Juventus on Monday night, missing a penalty as the Italian league leaders eased past bottom club Chievo 3-0.
Madrid prosecutors opened an investigation into Ronaldo in June 2017 and he was questioned in July that same year.
"I have never hidden anything, nor have I had the intention of
evading taxes," he told the court then, according to a statement from
the sports agency which represents him, Gestifute.
Prosecutors accused Ronaldo of having used companies in low-tax
foreign jurisdictions - notably the British Virgin Islands and Ireland - to avoid paying the tax due in Spain on payments for his image rights
between 2011 and 2014.
His lawyers argued there had been a difference in interpretation of
what was and was not taxable in Spain, and deny any deliberate attempt
to evade tax.
But under the deal between Spain's tax authorities and his lawyers, Ronaldo pleaded guilty to four counts of tax fraud.
Ronaldo is one of several footballers to have fallen foul of Spain's tax authorities in recent years.
Barcelona's Lionel Messi, once Ronaldo's big La Liga rival, paid a
€2 million 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 €252 000, equivalent to €400 per day of the original term.
Ronaldo's former Real
Madrid team-mate Xabi Alonso appeared at the same Madrid court on
Tuesday, for the first time, on a separate tax evasion charge.
Public prosecutors are seeking a five-year jail sentence and a fine of four million euros.
The trial was suspended while the court considers whether it has jurisdiction to hear the case.
"I never hid anything, I have to defend myself," Alonso, 37, told reporters as he left the court.
Ronaldo is also facing accusations in the United States where a
former American model accused him of raping her in Las Vegas in 2009.
Police in the US city recently asked Italian authorities for a DNA sample from the footballer.
Ronaldo has always denied the accusations.
In a New Year's Eve interview with Portuguese sports daily Record, he
said he had a "calm conscience" and was "confident that everything will
very soon be clarified".