Cristiano Ronaldo said he “has never hidden anything” and told his advisers to always make sure he paid what he owed correctly and in time, in a statement released after the Real Madrid star spent 90 minutes answering to charges of a €14.7 million tax fraud in a Madrid court on Monday morning.
Prosecutors at Spain’s Hacienda tax agency have put together a case arguing that the Real Madrid forward, his advisers and agents at Gestifute routed image rights income through a network of companies to avoid paying the relevant taxes from 2011 to 2014.
In June, a state prosecutor accused Ronaldo of four counts of tax fraud from 2011 to 2014 worth 14.7 million euros ($17.4 million). Ronaldo was accused of having used shell companies outside Spain to hide income made from image rights. The accusation does not involve his salary from Real Madrid.
Ronaldo denies any wrongdoing.
“Spain’s tax office knows all the details about my sources of income because we have reported them,” Ronaldo told the judge, according to his statement. “I always file my tax returns because I think that we should all file and pay our taxes.
“Those who know me know that I tell my consultants that they must have everything in order and paid up to date because I don’t want trouble.”
Before and after his court appearance, Ronaldo used an alternative entrance to avoid a swarm of more than a hundred journalists from Spain and abroad gathered near the main door to the court.
Court officials had said that either Ronaldo or his lawyer would speak to the media after he saw the judge, but instead the player’s spokesman, Iñaki Torres, announced in front of the courthouse that Ronaldo “was on his way home.”
The prosecutor said in June that Ronaldo used what was deemed a shell company in the Virgin Islands to “create a screen in order to hide his total income from Spain’s tax office.”
The inquiry into Ronaldo’s financial arrangements is among recent high-profile tax cases involving soccer’s top names in Spain.
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 from income made from image rights. They have both paid additional fines in exchange for their 21-month jail sentences to be suspended.
Ronaldo, on an extended break following the Confederations Cup earlier in the summer, did not appear for Madrid during their International Champions Cup games in the United States this summer.
Manager Zinedine Zidane has said Ronaldo is expected to join up with the squad on their return to Europe on Saturday, making an appearance at Madrid’s game against the MLS All-Stars on Wednesday unlikely.
He is also unlikely to feature in the UEFA Super Cup against Manchester United in Macedonia on Aug. 8, or the Spanish Supercopa games against Barcelona on Aug. 13 and 16