Real Madrid and Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo has denied hiding income from the taxman or committing tax fraud in Spain, after prosecutors filed a lawsuit accusing him of defrauding authorities.
The prosecutor’s office allege the four-time world footballer of the year knowingly used a business structure created in 2010 to hide his image rights income in Spain amounting to 14.7 million euros ($A22 million) between) 2011 and 2014.
This involved a “voluntary” failure to comply with his tax obligations in Spain, the statement from the office’s economic crimes section said.
The four counts of tax fraud were based on a report from Spain’s tax agency, it said in a statement.
Ronaldo, speaking through his representatives, denied accusations he defrauded tax authorities.
“There is no tax evasion scheme … There has never been any hiding nor any intention to hide anything,” Gestifute, the agency representing the player, said in a statement.
Gestifute said it would publish documents to show Ronaldo did not create such a structure and had instead used firms he had owned since his time at Manchester United that both British and Spanish tax authorities had been aware of.
The agency also said the case could relate to different interpretations between the British and Spanish tax systems over where to declare some revenues but would in any case not constitute fraud.
Ronaldo, who led Real Madrid to their 12th Champions League title earlier this month, is the latest in a long line of football players in Spain – among them Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Neymar – to be caught up in cases over tax or transfers.
Between 2005 and 2010, foreign players in Spain were protected under the so-called “Beckham law” allowing them to curb their taxes.
But as the financial crisis bit deeper, that exemption was lifted, paving the way for the cases.
The prosecutor’s office alleges that Ronaldo defrauded the tax authorities of 1.4 million euros in 2011, 1.7 million euros in 2012, 3.2 million euros in 2013 and 8.5 million euros in 2014.