Ronaldo to face Spanish court over tax fraud charges

Cristiano Ronaldo will make an unwanted trip back to Madrid on Tuesday (Wednesday, NZT) and is expected to plead guilty to tax fraud.

Ronaldo will be in the Spanish capital on tax charges related to his time at Real Madrid.

The Juventus forward is expected to appear before a judge and receive a suspended two-year sentence as part of a deal struck with Spain’s state prosecutor and tax authorities last year.

The agreement will cost him nearly €19 million ($NZ32 million) in fines.

In Spain, a judge can suspend sentences for two years or less for first-time offenders.

In 2017, a state prosecutor accused Ronaldo of four counts of tax fraud from 2011-14 worth €14.7 million (NZ$24.8 million).

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Ronaldo was accused of having used shell companies outside Spain to hide income made from image rights.

After being questioned for nearly 90 minutes in a Madrid court at the time, the Portuguese player told a judge he never tried to avoid taxes.

The accusations didn’t involve his salary from Real Madrid, his club from 2009 until joining Italian champion Juventus last year.

Ronaldo’s presence in court on Tuesday is not expected to last long.

Officials said he declined an option to address the court via video conference.

The court has already dismissed Ronaldo’s request to enter the building directly from the parking lot, which would have allowed the player to avoid the media.

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The request was made for security reasons, but the court said it didn’t think the measure was needed despite the player’s notoriety.

Separately, Ronaldo is facing a rape allegation in the United States.

Kathryn Mayorga filed a civil lawsuit in Nevada in September claiming Ronaldo raped her in his Las Vegas hotel room in 2009. Police reopened an investigation into the allegation at her request. Ronaldo has denied any wrongdoing.

Several other football figures have been subjected to investigations from tax authorities in Spain in recent years, including Lionel Messi, Jose Mourinho, Javier Mascherano, Marcelo, Luka Modric, Alexis Sanchez, Ricardo Carvalho, Angel Di Maria, Radamel Falcao and Fabio Coentrao.

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