In the news for weeks due to the arrival of new children, Portugal’s footballing hero Cristiano Ronaldo will be back in the media spotlight tomorrow as he faces a court grilling over allegations that he evaded €14.7 million in tax.
The Spanish-led investigation has arrived at the stage where it is ready to question the world’s highest paid athlete, who insists he has done nothing wrong.
The allegations have grown from the “Football Leaks” scandal which broke late last year, involving a myriad of high-profile names (click here).
Explain reports, Madrid public prosecutors accuse the Real Madrid striker of having taken “advantage of a company structure created in 2010 to hide income generated in Spain from his image rights from tax authorities.”
Prosecutors contend this was a “voluntary and conscious breach of his fiscal obligations in Spain”.
International media has since outlined further accusations, centring on Ronaldo “only” declaring €11.5 million of Spanish related income from 2011-2015 – “while what he really earned during that time was close to €43 million” – and “voluntarily refusing to include €28.4 million in income linked to the sale of his image rights for the 2015 to 2020 period to a Spanish company”.
Sources quote the Gestha union of experts at Spain’s Inland Revenue saying Ronaldo risks a fine of €28 million and “could potentially be jailed for three-and-a-half years” if he is put on trial and found guilty.
But in Portugal, national media stresses that the record-breaking athlete is ‘ready to pay’ the €14.7 million “if this is the determination of the court”.
Tomorrow’s hearing takes place behind closed doors in the Pozuelo de Alarcon courthouse local to CR7’s Madrid residence.
Spanish news sources say “around 125 journalists from more than 30 media outlets and over a dozen countries have contacted the Press Office to enquire about covering the event from outside the building”.
In other words, it’ll be yet another media circus.
Meantime, Ronaldo’s Midas-touch agent, Portuguese Jorge Mendes is equally in the eye of Spanish tax authorities, as well as those in Portugal.
According to tabloid Correio da Manhã this morning, companies in Mendes ‘economic group’ have been under investigation since 2016 for business undertaken with as many as 13 clubs, among them the ‘big ones’: Benfica, Sporting and Porto.
Mendes too has repeatedly maintained he has nothing to hide.