Embroiled in an ugly €15 million court battle with Spanish tax authorities, lawyers for Portuguese football star Cristiano Ronaldo are calling ‘foul’.
They claim their world famous client is a victim of ‘double standards’, and they have cited other cases, against other (less rich and less famous) footballers – namely Pepe and Karim Benzema – in which similar tax issues have been dealt with very differently.
In a letter to Spanish newspaper El Mundo, Ronaldo’s defence team say tax authorities have basically “distorted” their “criteria of analysis”.
Whereas Pepe and Karim Benzema’s issues were considered “administrative questions and resolved with a supplementary statement”, Ronaldo’s have been considered a full-blown fiscal crime.
Indeed, the head of Spain’s fiscal crime unit went as far as suggesting Ronaldo should be in jail on the basis that tax authorities put “people in prison for not paying €125,000”.
As CR7’s defence explains, they used the example of Pepe and Benzema since those players’ issues were highlighted by Spanish tax authorities to the judge hearing Ronaldo’s case as proof that the ace’s legal advisors “knew about tax inspections of other players”.
Pepe and Benzema ended up receiving fines (one million euros and €500,000 respectively), thus Ronaldo’s defence simply wants ‘equal treatment’ for their client, with criminal charges ‘knocked out’ of the playing field.
The Madeiran-born star has always said that he will gladly pay whatever authorities think may be due.
The case has been hanging over Ronaldo for years, arguing that the creation of companies in Ireland and the British Virgin Islands was designed to avoid paying up to almost €15 million in tax due in Spain between the years of 2011 and 2014.
Ronaldo, considered a Spanish tax resident since 2010, has argued that close to 90% of his image rights deals were earned abroad, and yet despite this, he still paid Spanish tax authorities as if 20% were taxable in Spain.