Ronaldo accepts 2 years in prison, mega tax fine
Cristiano Ronaldo (Getty Images)
Moscow - Real
Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo has agreed to pay the Spanish taxman €18.8
million (R295 million) to settle a tax fraud claim, a legal source
said on Friday.
The deal between the fiscal authorities and the advisors of the star
comes hours before Ronaldo's Portugal face Spain in the Soccer World Cup in
The agreement still has to be ratified and will likely come with a
two-year jail term - although sentences of up to two years are not
generally served in Spain.
The former Manchester United player, who is at the World Cup on the
back of a third straight Champions League title with Real, appeared in
court last July at Pozuelo de Alarcon, a wealthy Madrid suburb, to
answer four counts of tax evasion.
Prosecutors allege the five-time Ballon d'Or winner took "advantage
of a company structure created in 2010 to hide income generated in Spain
from his image rights from tax authorities".
He is alleged to have used companies in low-tax foreign jurisdictions - notably the British Virgin Islands and Ireland - to avoid having to
pay the tax otherwise due.
In 2014, Spanish authorities say he was late in declaring that year
just €11.5 million of revenue earned in Spain for the period
2011-2014 when his earnings in his country of residence totalled €43
The Spanish taxman also found he did not declare €28.4 million in image rights agreed for 2015-2020, leaving €14.7 million owing. His
legal team had blamed the affair on a simple different interpretation of
which revenue he was obliged to declare in Spain.
In May, legal sources indicated that the Portuguese, the world's
highest paid sportsman last year with $93 million for 2016-2017
according to Forbes magazine, had proposed making a €14 million
Had the case gone further, without the player offering a full
settlement, he could have faced a fine of a reported €28 million
as well as a three-and-a-half-year jail term, according to the Spanish
tax office union Gestha.
Ronaldo's big La Liga rival, Barcelona's Argentinian star Lionel
Messi, paid a €2 million fine in 2016 in his own tax wrangle and
received a 21-month jail term, the latter reduced to a further fine of
€252 000 equivalent to €400 per day of the original term.
In a statement issued by the Gestifute sports agency which represents
him, Ronaldo insisted last year that he had "never hidden anything, nor
have I had the intention of evading taxes".
Prosecutors had alleged a "voluntary and conscious breach of his fiscal obligations in Spain."