The taxman cometh for Cristiano Ronaldo.
Spanish prosecutors sued the soccer superstar Tuesday for tax evasion, according to Bloomberg’s Tariq Panja. Authorities accuse Ronaldo of knowingly using an overseas “business structure” (or shell company) to hide income from his image rights from Spanish tax agencies between 2011 and 2014. He allegedly defrauded Spain of 14.7 million euros (£13 million; $16 million) worth of tax payments.
Ronaldo’s tax problems seemingly stem from some intrepid journalism.
“The charges come months after Spanish newspaper El Mundo published leaked documents revealing details of the offshore holdings of several soccer players, including Ronaldo,” Panja writes.
Ronaldo joins Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, Neymar and Javier Mascherano among soccer stars the Spanish government has accused of tax evasion in recent years. Messi and Mascherano were found guilty of the charges but have avoided incarceration by paying back taxes and a fine — a common fate for first-time tax offenders in Spain.
Ronaldo, whom Forbes declared the world’s highest-earning athlete in 2017, denies the allegations. A spokeswoman for Gestifute, the agency that represents Ronaldo, declined to comment to Bloomberg.
The 32-year-old is the reigning Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year winner. He helped Real Madrid win La Liga (Spain’s first division) and the UEFA Champions League last season.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images