The tax fraud saga in the international footballing world opened a new chapter with Spanish tax authorities accusing Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo of evading a tax payment of €14.7 million.
Prosecutors working for Spain’s tax authority suggest that the Portuguese footballer “defrauded the [country] of 1.4 million euros in 2011, 1.7 million euros in 2012, 3.2 million euros in 2013 and 8.5 million euros in 2014.”
As reported by Kelly Phillips Erb for Forbes, “Spanish authorities claim that Ronaldo understated his revenue between 2011 and 2013. The amount reported was 11.5 million euros ($12.87 million US), though authorities allege that he should have reported 43 million euros ($48.15 million US).”
Technically speaking, the Spanish government alleges that Ronaldo made use of a shell company set up in the British Virgin Islands to hide image rights income and circumvent his tax obligations in the country.
Back in 2008, Ronaldo handed his image rights to a BVI-based company called Tollin Associates, which, in turn, ceded them to Irish-based Multisports&Image Management Ltd for management purposes.
According to Spanish prosecutors, “Ceding image rights to (Tollin Associates) was completely unnecessary and its only purpose was to create a screen to conceal the totality of his image rights income from the Spanish tax authorities."
Lawyers, Agents & Real Madrid Come to Ronaldo’s Defense on Tax Fraud
Ronaldo’s lawyer Antonio Lobo Xavier said his client is innocent, as the claims have “come as a complete surprise and the player feels that it is an injustice."
“There was no lack of a declaration [of income]. There was a declaration according to criteria that apparently isn't the criteria the Spanish fiscal authorities like, but there is nothing written in law or in any rulebook that says the player broke the rules,” Lobo Xavier added.
Ronaldo’s agency Gestifute backed their star player, asserting, “Cristiano's lawyers consider that regarding what the solution to this case ends up being, it should be confined to an administrative field rather than a criminal one.”
His current football club, Real Madrid, also chimed in, releasing a statement saying, ““Real Madrid have full confidence in Cristiano Ronaldo, who we understand has acted in accordance with the legality regarding the fulfillment of his fiscal obligations. Cristiano Ronaldo has always shown since his arrival to Real Madrid in July 2009 a clear will to fulfill all his tax obligations. Real Madrid is absolutely convinced that Cristiano Ronaldo will prove his total innocence in this process.”
Ronaldo remains at ease with these allegations.
Several weeks ago, he told Spanish television channel El Chiringuito TV, as quoted by ESPN, “I am very relaxed about it, the truth is very, very relaxed…I know that these things can be resolved with the best decisions. So I am good. I can say from the depth of my heart, looking straight into the camera.”
Will Ronaldo end up being convicted like his main footballing rival Lionel Messi? Let’s see how this saga unfolds!
Main Shutterstock image credited to: Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley / Shutterstock.com