A Spanish state prosecutor accused Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo of defrauding Spain’s tax office of 14.7 million euros ($16.5 million) in unpaid taxes on Tuesday.
In a statement, Madrid’s regional state prosecutor accused Ronaldo of four accounts of tax fraud from 2011-14.
It said the Portugal forward “took advantage of a business structure created in 2010 to hide from fiscal authorities income generated in Spain from image rights.”
The statement said Ronaldo used what the prosecutor deems a shell company in the Virgin Islands to “create a screen in order to hide his total income from Spain’s Tax Office.”
The prosecutor also said that Ronaldo “intentionally” did not declare income of 28.4 million euros ($31.8 million) made from the cession of image rights from 2015-20 to another company located in Spain.
Additionally, the prosecutor accused Ronaldo of declaring 11.5 million euros ($12.8 million) earned from 2011-14 in a tax return filed in 2014, when the prosecutor said Ronaldo’s real income during that period was almost 43 million euros ($48 million). It added that Ronaldo falsely claimed the income as coming from real estate, which “greatly” reduced his tax rate.
It will now be up to a judge to decide if there are grounds to take the matter to court.
Ronaldo’s agency Gestifute had previously said he was up to date on his taxes, and it defended him again on Tuesday by saying that he had maintained the same financial planning in Spain that he had while playing for Manchester United before joining Madrid in 2009.
“There is no off shore structure for evading taxes,” Gestifute said in a statement. “There has never been concealment, or the slightest intention to conceal.”
Last month, tax officials said Ronaldo adjusted his tax declarations and paid an extra 6 million euros ($6.7 million) in 2014.
A four-time Ballon d’Or winner, the 32-year-old Ronaldo is Europe’s leading soccer player. He has led Madrid to back-to-back Champions League titles and its first Spanish league in five seasons, and helped Portugal to win last year’s European Championship.
He is also the latest high-profile soccer player to run afoul of Spain’s tax man.
Last year, Barcelona forward Lionel Messi and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, were found guilty on three counts of defrauding tax authorities of 4.1 million euros ($4.6 million) from income made from image rights and given 21-month jail sentences. Neither Messi, however, is expected to serve prison time since it was a first offense.
On Tuesday, the state prosecutor cited the verdict against Messi as precedent for the case against Ronaldo.
Messi and his father were first accused by a state prosecutor of tax fraud in June 2013. Their case was resolved against them in July 2016.