Bursting the bubble of what has been a truly amazing week Portugal’s ‘best export’ Cristiano Ronaldo has just learned that he is being formally accused of tax fraud.
The 32-year-old champion is charged with hiding €14.7 million from Spanish tax authorities in offshore companies.
A statement from Spain’s public prosecutors office said: “The accused took advantage of a business structure created in 2010 to hide income generated in Spain from his image rights from tax authorities, which is a ‘voluntary’ and ‘conscious’ breach of his fiscal obligations in Spain”.
Gestifute, the sports promoting firm representing Ronaldo and run by Portuguese agent Jorge Mendes has previously denounced the investigation as a pack of lies (click here), saying their high-profile client whose worth to Portugal in terms of exports has been put on a par with Port wine has fully complied with all his fiscal obligations.
Ronaldo himself has also said that he has nothing to hide.
Talking to an RTP journalist about the developing furore, the four times Ballon d’Or (footballer of the year award) winner said: “Quien no debe no teme”, which, according to the BBC, “roughly translates” as “He who has nothing to hide has no fear”.
But Spanish authorities are clearly not buying it.
As fully explained months ago in a major newspaper investigation dubbed Football Leaks, suspicions centre on the use of offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands and Ireland during the years 2011-2014.
Citing the recent Lionel Messi tax evasion – where Messi was fined over €2 million and handed a suspended two-year jail sentence – Spain’s Public Ministry told the Alarcón court of instruction in Madrid that Ronald “took advantage of a company created in 2010 to hide income generated in Spain for image rights, something that assumes “voluntary” and “conscious” evasion of his fiscal obligations in Spain”.
Ronaldo is not the first football star to fall foul of Spanish tax authorities, but he is without doubt the most highly paid.
Only days ago in this action-packed week for the extraordinary player from Madeira, Forbes put him once again at the top of their “most highly-paid athlete” ranking, with a global income last year of over €82 million (click here).
For now it is a question of ‘watch and wait’. Spain’s LaLiga football league president Javier Tebas has told reporters:
“I believe he is innocent. We need to wait to see how things end.
“I am not going to criminalise a player or anybody until I’ve seen a court sentence”.