Why Ronaldo Might End Up In Jail
Accused of evading €14.7million in taxes, Real Madrid superstar, Cristiano Ronaldo arrived at the Pozuelo de Alarcon court on Monday to testify.
The Portugal superstar has been under the spotlight over his future at Real Madrid, but even more troubling is whether or not he could end up in jail following tax fraud allegations.
Spanish prosecutors claim Ronaldo failed to pay €14.7 million on image rights earned between 2011 and 2014, and that he used a shell company in the Virgin Islands to “create a screen in order to hide his total income”, ESPN writes.
The 32-year-old, through his representatives, Gestifute, has vehemently denied the charges,saying he has a “clear conscience” as he attends the hearing where the judge will decide if there are grounds to charge him with a crime, and possibly, give him a prison sentence.
According to his advisors, the majority of his image-rights income is earned abroad and therefore not liable for Spanish tax.
His protestations regardless, Spain’s Hacienda tax authorities believe that he used a network of companies in various countries, including Ireland and the British Virgin Islands (BVI), to hide at least €78m in image rights income for the stated period.
It’s a somewhat similar case to Ronaldo’s bête noire, Lionel Messi who was fined €3.6m and sentenced to 21 months in prison (which was suspended) for defrauding €4.1m between 2007-09.
Prosecutors are said to have used the Supreme Court judgement against Messi to support their case against Ronaldo. But the Portuguese faces the prospect of jail time as unlike Messi, he does not intend to make any advance payment or accept any wrongdoing.
But his defiant strategy could backfire as a guilty verdict for an aggravated tax crime means a mandatory jail time of two to six years.
“Prison is a completely real possibility (for Ronaldo),” said Spanish legal expert Jorge Sanchez says.
The key for the four-time ballon d’Or winner remains whether he can swallow his pride, take the hit to his pocket by paying the massive fines and have the charges downgraded from “aggravated” so as to minimise the sentence.
There’s no price to high for freedom after all.