Ronaldo in court for tax evasion charge
|bbc.com 22 Jan 2019 at 00:34|
Football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has arrived in court in Madrid amid a huge media presence to face tax evasion charges which could result in an €18.8m (£16.6m) fine.
A judge refused the player s request to appear by video or to enter the building by car to avoid the spotlight.
He is widely expected to plead guilty in a pre-agreed deal that would hand him a 23-month jail sentence.
In Spain, convicts are usually not sent to jail for sentences under two years.
The non-violent nature of Ronaldo s offence means it is unlikely he would face any time at all in jail under the deal.
Ronaldo, five-time winner of Europe s Ballon d Or and often titled one of the world s best players, is accused of avoiding paying tax in Spain between 2011 and 2014, when he was playing for Real Madrid and based in the Spanish capital.
Journalist Ruben Canizares posted a video of the footballer arriving at the provincial court with his fiancee Georgina Rodriguez.
Así ha llegado Cristiano Ronaldo a la Audiencia Provincial. De la mano de Georgina, firmando autógrafos y sonriente: “Estoy perfecto” pic.twitter.com/zandMqqMGm
The case centres around lucrative image rights deals. Prosecutors say the proceeds were funnelled through low-tax companies in foreign nations to avoid paying the required tax.
The amount was reported to be in the region of €14.8m.
In 2017, when the allegations first emerged, prosecutors said it was a "voluntary and conscious breach of his fiscal obligations in Spain".
But Ronaldo s lawyers said it is all down to a misunderstanding over what was and was not required under Spanish law, and deny any deliberate attempt to evade tax.
, had to be agreed with Spain s tax authorities. It will be presented to the judge on Tuesday at a short court session. The judge will announce his verdict in the coming days.
Ronaldo is not the only high-profile player to face the wrath of Spain s tax system.
His former Real Madrid team-mate Xabi Alonso is expected to appear in court on the same day for the first time , charged with similar image rights offences amounting to about €2m.
In recent years:
The recent crackdown on high-profile footballers follows the removal of a tax exemption in 2010. Known as the "Beckham law", it had allowed footballers to curb their taxes.