Real Madrid striker, Cristiano Ronaldo has reportedly defrauded the Spanish taxman of more than €14 million. The prosecutor’s office said that Ronaldo attempted to hide the money he earned from his image rights in Spain from the tax authorities, in what it said was a “voluntary” and “conscious” breach of his fiscal obligations.
In Spain, tax fraud is punishable by up to five years in prison, according to the Madrid prosecutor’s office, El País.
The prosecutor’s office said Ronaldo “had the intention to obtain an illicit tax benefit.”
It said he transferred his image rights to a shell company in the British Virgin Islands, a tax haven, and then on to an Irish company that managed his brand. Prosecutors said the arrangement was “completely unnecessary” and its “sole purpose” was to conceal the income he earned.
The statement also referred to Ronaldo’s footballing rival Lionel Messi of Barcelona, who was convicted of tax fraud last year. Messi was handed a 21-month jail sentence that was later reduced to 15 months. The sentence was confirmed by the supreme court last month, but Messi is unlikely to face jail time because sentences under two years can be served on probation.