A German magazine alleges that footballer Cristiano Ronaldo used an offshore company to hide millions of euros in advertising fees. The Portuguese star's agent says the player is fully compliant with Spanish tax law.
In the first of several revelations likely to rock the football world, the German weekly alleged on Friday that until two years ago, Ronaldo used a so-called mailbox company to hide millions of dollars in earnings from advertising rights.
"Spiegel" claimed the Portuguese international and Real Madrid striker benefited from a special arrangement with Spanish tax authorities, reducing his tax liability which expired in 2014.
It cited data from the whistle-blowing website "Football Leaks" that claimed he sold rights to his brand identity until the the year 2020 to the mailbox companies shortly before the controversial tax arrangement ran out.
The magazine said the proceeds, almost 75 million euros ($80 million), were then transferred to a private Swiss bank account, in time for the footballer to benefit from the tax advantage for the final time. The investigation said Ronaldo could have "avoided 31 million euros of taxes" in the deal.
Ronaldo's agent Jorge Mendes initially did not reply to "Spiegel's" request for clarification before publication but on Sunday he released a document that allegedly shows the player is in compliance with Spain's tax authority.
"Spiegel's" claims are part of an investigation by a group of 12 European newspapers that promises further revelations into what it says is widespread alleged corruption in the football world over the next three weeks.
Separate allegations were levied at Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, who the joint investigation said had "concealed 12 million euros in a Swiss account owned by a British Virgin Islands company."
The deal was allegedly arranged by his agent Jorge Mendes.
In response, Mendes's company Gestifute said on Friday that Ronaldo and Mourinho had "fully respected their obligations vis-a-vis the Spanish and British authorities".
The company accused the media consortium of operating in an "insidious" way concerning the stars' tax obligations.
"Spiegel" also reported that Arsenal and German national player Mesut Özil was forced to pay an extra two million euros to Spanish tax authorities over a financial arrangement between his agents, his former club Real Madrid and current London club. The Spanish tax bureau believed that Özil had benefited from the arrangement, the magazine alleged.
Özil also faced a financial penalty of 789,963 euros, the magazine claimed, which it said was suspended.
mm/msh (Spiegel, AFP)