Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and his representatives have changed their tone in his tax fraud case because he could face 10 years in jail for four alleged tax fraud offences.
The Portuguese had initially insisted he hasn’t done anything wrong, but experts called on by his lawyer’s have now agreed with the tax authorities that the player defrauded €14.7 million (R213 million) of tax, as reported by Cadena Ser and cited by AS.
The experts, who were reportedly proposed by Ronaldo’s lawyers, were three professionals from the National Office of International Tax – a distinct body from Spain’s tax authorities.
They were questioned for four hours by a court in Pozuela de Alarcon, outside Madrid, and agreed with every point raised that the player defrauded €14.7 million of tax over four years between 2011 and 2014.
The experts rejected the legal arguments of Ronaldo’s camp, who had tried to reason that his income from image rights was income from moveable assets (taxed at a lower rate) rather than work-related income (taxed at a higher rate).
Ronaldo will now reportedly be forced to negotiate a settlement with the tax authorities or risk being summoned to an oral hearing, where he could face 10 years in jail for his alleged four tax fraud offences.
The Portuguese’s lawyers previously offered a settlement worth €3.8 million but it was not seen as sufficient because Spain’s tax authorities are reportedly holding out for €25 million
If he does plead guilty and agree to a settlement, he would reportedly face a suspended prison sentence as a first-time offender similar to the one Lionel Messi received as outcome of his tax fraud case.
Messi’s tax fraud was, however, much smaller than Ronaldo’s with the Argentine found guilty of fraud worth €4.1 million (R59.5 million) in comparison to the Los Blancos’s talisman’s €14.7 million.