Ronaldo appears before court in tax dodge probe
Cristiano Ronaldo, a famous footballer in the world, has appeared at a Spanish court on Monday to reply questions as part of an investigation to determine whether the Real Madrid forward committed tax fraud.
The judge will take Ronaldo's statement as part of an probe to calculate if there are grounds to charge him.
Ronaldo reached at Pozuelo de Alarcon Court No 1 in the outskirts of Madrid about half an hour before he was to appear. The session with the investigating judge is closed to the public.
The 32-year-old Ronaldo used an alternative entrance to avoid a large swarm of journalists gathered near the main door to the court, according to court officials.
In June, a state prosecutor accused Ronaldo of four counts of tax fraud from 2011-14 worth $16.5 million. The prosecutor alleged the Portugal forward of using what the prosecutor deemed a shell company in the Virgin Islands to “create a screen in order to hide his total income from Spain's Tax Office”. The accusation does not involve his salary from Real Madrid. Ronaldo has denied any wrongdoing.
According to the prosecutor, Ronaldo had declared $12.8 million earned from 2011-14 in a tax return filed in 2014, when the footballer's real income during that period was almost $48 million. He added that Ronaldo falsely claimed the income as coming from real estate, which “greatly” reduced his tax rate.
The lawyer further said that Ronaldo did not declare income of $31.8 million made from the cession of image rights from 2015-20 to another company located in Spain.
Ronaldo's agency, Gestifute, said he was up to date on his taxes and that he had maintained the same financial planning in Spain that he had while playing for Manchester United before joining Madrid in 2009.
A four-time Ballon d'Or winner, Ronaldo is one of Europe's best soccer players. He has led Madrid to back-to-back Champions League titles and helped Portugal to win last year's European Championship.
Last month, Spain's state prosecutor also accused former Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho of defrauding $3.7 million in 2011 and 2012 from income made from image rights. Mourinho, now coach of Manchester United, has yet to be summoned for questioning and through his agent has denied any wrongdoing.
The probes into Ronaldo and Mourinho's financial arrangements are the most recent high-profile tax cases involving soccer's top names in Spain.