Spanish prosecutors file a tax fraud lawsuit against Ronaldo
Spanish prosecutors in Madrid confirmed yesterday that they have filed a lawsuit against Cristiano Ronaldo for allegedly defrauding Spanish authorities of €14.7m (£12.95m) between 2011 and 2014.
In a statement, the prosecutor's office alleged that the Real Madrid star and four-time Ballon d'Or winner had knowingly used a "business structure" created in 2010 to hide income from his image rights, and described his failure to pay the correct tax as "conscious and willing".
The lawsuit is based on a report sent to the prosecutor's office from Spain's tax agency AEAT, it said.
Ronaldo took legal advantage of what is known in Spain as 'the Beckham law' - which allows foreign sport stars to pay 24.75% income tax rather than the 48% applied to Spanish nationals. Athletes must still pay taxes on other income earned in Spain.
In Ronaldo's case, he is accused of having diverted some €150m of advertising revenue through a shell company in the British Virgin Islands.
Barcelona star Lionel Messi was sentenced to 22 months in prison for a €4.1m fraud, but avoided jail by paying a fine and agreeing to probation.
Ronaldo's representatives did not respond immediately to a request for comment.