Cristiano Ronaldo Accused of Tax Evasion
After years of speculation and allegations of tax evasion, several media European outlets have reported that there is now concrete evidence that Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo participated in a tax evasion scheme to hide roughly €150 million from the government and thereby fraudulently reduce his tax obligations. While the allegations have yet to be confirmed by the Spanish authorities, the media outlets—including Germany’s Der Spiegel—say that Ronaldo avoided paying taxes by routing income pertaining to image rights offshore via a series of offshore companies set up by the agency that represents him, Gestifute.
The origin of the accusations is a leak of millions of confidential documents pertaining to the contracts and correspondences of some of the world’s most famous football players, dubbed the “Football Leaks.” Der Spiegel was able to gain access to these leaked documents—which reportedly include original contracts of a number of major soccer players, as well as secret sub-agreements. Several European journalists have sifted through the trove, finding information about players’ salaries, transfer fees, buy-outs, and more.
Ronaldo, as well as Gestifute, has vehemently denied the accusations. Real Madrid has also defended Ronaldo. “In view of the stories published over recent days and in consideration of the certificate issued by the Spanish Tax Agency which confirms that our player Cristiano Ronaldo is up to date with all of his tax obligations, Real Madrid C. F. call for the utmost respect to be shown towards Cristiano Ronaldo, whose conduct has been absolutely exemplary throughout all of his time at our club,” a recent statement by the club read.
Ronaldo is the second major soccer star to be accused of tax evasion this year. In July, a Spanish court found Ronaldo’s La Liga rival Lionel Messi guilty of tax fraud and sentenced him to 21 months in prison. Messi, however, has denied that he has done anything wrong and has promised to appeal the decision. There is still not official word on when—or even if—Ronaldo will be prosecuted. When asked if he was nervous about the possibility of legal action being taken against him, Ronaldo replied, “Do you think I’m worried? He who owes nothing fears nothing.”
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