Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo has officially been charged by Spain’s prosecutor’s office for allegedly failing to pay taxes on €14.7 million of income from the years 2011 to 2014.
The tax authorities claim that Ronaldo’s scheme for evading taxes on his image rights involved the creation of a shell company called Tollin Associates, domiciled in the British Virgin Islands. Ronaldo assigned his image rights to that company, of which Ronaldo was the sole stakeholder, which then assigned management of that account to another company based in Ireland.
In its statement announcing the charges against the Portuguese winger, the prosecutor’s office said “Ceding image rights to (Tollin Associates) was completely unnecessary and it’s only purpose was to create a screen to conceal the totality of his image rights income from the Spanish tax authorities.” The statement also claimed that Ronaldo “knowingly” and “voluntarily” organized his business like this in order to avoid taxation.
Ronaldo could face a prison term of up to five years if found guilty, though him serving any prison time is unlikely. In a similar case recently, Barcelona’s Lionel Messi was found guilty of evading €4.1 million in taxes and was sentenced to 21 months in prison. However, because the Spanish legal system allows any prison sentence of under two years to be suspended, the Argentine will not be incarcerated for the offense.
This news about Ronaldo’s charges for tax fraud comes a month after a team of investigative reporters at German paper Der Spiegel published a report that claimed Cristiano Ronaldo reached a $375,000 out of court settlement with a Las Vegas woman who alleged he raped her in exchange for her refusing to press charges. Ronaldo and his Real Madrid teammates won Spanish league and Champions League titles this past season.