By The Guardian
Prosecutor alleges footballer used shell company, failed to declare some earnings and under-reported others
Cristiano Ronaldo during the Champions League final this month. Photograph: Angel Martinez/Real Madrid via Getty Images
Sam Jones in Madrid and agencies | Tuesday 13 June 2017
Spanish prosecutors have accused the Real Madrid footballer Cristiano Ronaldo of defrauding the authorities of €14.7m (£12.9m) in unpaid taxes between 2011 and 2014.
Madrid’s regional state prosecutor alleged that the player 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 €28.4m (£25m) related to image rights, and declared €11.5m of earnings from 2011-14 when his real income was almost €43m.
The prosecutor also alleged that the Portuguese falsely reported income as coming from real estate, which it said had greatly reduced his tax rate.
Ronaldo’s agency, GestiFute, had previously maintained he was up to date on his taxes. His representatives have been contacted for comment.
In December last year, GestiFute published details of Ronaldo’s £191m assets in response to allegations of tax evasion.
“The player has been aware of his tax obligations right away from the beginning of his professional career in all of the countries in which he has resided and has not and has never had any issue with the tax authorities of any of those countries,” it said in a statement.
Last month, tax officials said Ronaldo had adjusted his tax declarations and paid an extra €6m (£5.3m) in 2014.
Ronaldo, 32, a four-time Ballon d’Or winner, is not the first high-profile footballer to find himself the target of legal action by the Spanish tax authorities.
In July last year, the Barcelona forward Lionel Messi and his father, Jorge, were sentenced to 21 months in prison for tax fraud. A Barcelona court found that the Messis had evaded tax on Lionel’s image rights, with more than €4m (£3.5m) owed in back payments.
Because the court’s sentence was less than two years and neither Messi had a criminal record, neither was sent to prison.
Prosecutors alleged that tax havens in Belize and Uruguay were used to conceal earnings from image rights. Messi said he knew nothing about his financial affairs, while his father said he had been told by a legal adviser that the practice was legal.
On Tuesday, the Madrid state prosecutor cited the verdict against Messi as legal precedent for the case against Ronaldo.