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Ronaldo faces multi-million tax fraud fine in Madrid court

MADRID: Cristiano Ronaldo is returning to Madrid for a court date on Tuesday in which he could be fined 18.8 million euros ($21.4 million) for tax fraud as part of a deal reached with the Spanish taxman.

As part of an agreement arranged in June with the former Real Madrid hero´s lawyers, prosecutors are also asking that the Portuguese attacker, who last summer left the Spanish capital for Italian champions Juventus, be handed a 23-month jail sentence.

However Ronaldo would not spend a day in prison as sentences of up to two years are generally not enforced in Spain for first-time offenders in non-violent crimes.

The hearing, due to start at 9:50 am (0850 GMT), is expected to last just a few minutes as the deal is officially presented to the judge.

He in turn will give the final sentence on Tuesday or the coming days, according to a spokesman for the court in northern Madrid.

Ronaldo will not be given special treatment when he arrives and will have to climb up the courthouse steps amid a likely media scrum despite the five-time Ballon d´Or winner´s lawyers asking he be allowed to enter the building by car to avoid the spotlight.

The court president refused the request, saying that despite his “great fame”, he wouldn´t “compromise security” at the building, according to a court document.

His request to appear via videoconference was also denied.

Offshore companies 

Madrid prosecutors opened a probe into Ronaldo in June 2017 and he was questioned in July that same year.

“I have never hidden anything, nor have I had the intention of evading taxes,” he told the court then, according to a statement from the sports agency which represents him, Gestifute.

Prosecutors accuse him of having used companies in low-tax foreign jurisdictions — notably the British Virgin Islands and Ireland — to avoid having to pay the tax due in Spain on his image rights between 2011 and 2014.

His lawyers said there had been a difference in interpretation of what was and was not taxable in Spain.

The deal between Spain´s taxman and his lawyers has allowed Ronaldo to avoid having to sit through a long trial that could have damaged his image and seen him handed a heftier sentence.

Ronaldo is not the only footballer to have fallen foul of Spain´s tax authorities.

Barcelona´s Lionel Messi, once Ronaldo´s big La Liga rival, paid a two-million-euro fine in 2016 in his own tax wrangle and received a 21-month jail term.

The prison sentence was later reduced to a further fine of 252,000 euros, equivalent to 400 euros per day of the original term.

 Accused of rape in US 

But Ronaldo´s legal wrangles won´t be over after a probe was opened in the United States in October after a former American model accused him of raping her in Las Vegas in 2009.

Police in the western US city recently asked Italian authorities for a DNA sample from the footballer.

Ronaldo has always strenuously denied the accusations.

In a New Year´s Eve interview with Portuguese sports daily Record, he said he had a “calm conscience” and was “confident that everything will very soon be clarified”

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