Cristiano Ronaldo accepts plea deal in tax fraud case | News | DW | 22.01.2019
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Cristiano Ronaldo accepts plea deal in tax fraud case

Soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo faces a multimillion dollar fine after pleading guilty to tax fraud in Spain. However, the Juventus forward is not expected to spend any time in prison.

Cristiano Ronaldo on Tuesday accepted a deal with Spanish prosecutors in a tax fraud case which saw him handed a fine of €18.8 million ($21.4 million).

He also received a suspended 23-month jail secntence, but is unlikely to spend any time in prison.

Ronaldo is one of several sports stars to come under scrutiny for tax evasion in Spain.

Details of the case:

  • Ronaldo was accused of four counts of tax fraud, amounting to €14.8 million.
  • Prosecutors say the footballer used shell companies in low-tax countries such as the British Virgin Islands and Ireland to hide income generated from his image rights.
  • The plea deal has allowed Ronaldo to avoid a long trial and avoid damaging his brand.
Watch video 01:34

Cristiano Ronaldo goes to court

Firm denial

The five-time world footballer of the year spent less than an hour in court. He signed off on the deal struck with Spanish prosecutors and tax authorities last year.

Under Spanish law, a first-time offender can serve sentences of two years or less under probation and Ronaldo will not have to go to prison.

When questioned at the start of the probe in mid-2017, Ronaldo denied hiding anything.

"I have never hidden anything, nor have I had the intention of evading taxes,” he told the court at the time.

The case relates to his time at Real Madrid, though the footballer has since moved to Italian club Juventus.

Football world under scrutiny: The Portuguese star is the latest footballer to come under investigation in recent years by Spanish authorities. Xabi Alonso, a former Real Madrid teammate, fronted the same court earlier in the day to face his own tax fraud case.

In 2016, Barcelona's Lionel Messi was fined €2 million and handed a 21-month jail term in a similar case.

Read more: Better than Ronaldo — Do we really need robots that play football?

What happens next: Ronaldo still faces another legal challenge in an ongoing accusation of a rape allegedly committed in Las Vegas in 2009.

nn/rt (Reuters, AFP)

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