MADRID – Spanish tax authorities have given their go-ahead for Cristiano Ronaldo to pay close to €19 million to settle a tax fraud claim, prosecutors said on Friday.
Prosecutors in Madrid said the deal with tax authorities and Ronaldo’s advisors also includes a two-year jail sentence, which he won’t serve.
Sentences of up to two years are generally not implemented in Spain for first-time offenders in non-violent crimes.
The 33-year-old former Real Madrid striker, who has moved to Juventus, appeared in court last July near Madrid to answer four counts of tax evasion.
Prosecutors allege the five-time Ballon d’Or winner hid income generated in Spain from his image rights from tax authorities.
He is alleged to have used companies in low-tax foreign jurisdictions – notably the British Virgin Islands and Ireland – to avoid having to pay the tax otherwise due.
In 2014, Spanish authorities say he was late in declaring that year just €11.5m revenue earned in Spain for the period 2011-2014 when his earnings in his country of residence totalled €43m.
The Spanish taxman also found he did not declare €28.4m in image rights agreed for 2015-2020, leaving €14.7m owing.
His legal team had blamed the affair on a simple different interpretation of which revenue he was obliged to declare in Spain.
Had the case gone further, without the player offering a full settlement, he could have faced a fine of a reported €28m as well as a three-and-a-half-year jail term, according to the Spanish tax office union Gestha.
Ronaldo’s big La Liga rival, Barcelona’s Argentinian star Lionel Messi, paid a €2m fine in 2016 in his own tax wrangle and received a 21-month jail term.
The prison sentence was later reduced to a further fine of €252 000, equivalent to €400 per day of the original term.