Cristiano Ronaldo told a Spanish judge on Monday that he was being picked on because of his star status during a grilling on claims he dodged £13.1 million in tax.
The Real Madrid star was fquizzed by magistrates in the Spanish capital for 90 minutes at a pre-trial hearing and Ballon d’Or winner did himself no favors with his attitude, telling the judge:
“If I wasn’t called Cristiano Ronaldo I wouldn’t be sat here.”
And Judge Mónica Gómez Ferrer hit back:
“You are mistaken. Plenty of anonymous people have sat where you are.
“You are under investigation for an alleged financial crime based on the evidence provided and upon which it is my duty to make a ruling.”
Prosecutors allege that Ronaldo took “advantage of a company structure created in 2010 to hide income generated in Spain from his image rights from tax authorities”.
They say this was a “voluntary and conscious breach of his fiscal obligations in Spain”.
In a statement last night, Ronaldo said:
“The Spanish tax authorities know my income in detail, because we have given it to them. I have never hidden anything in my declarations, nor have I had the smallest intention of evading taxes”
The Portuguese star said he did not create a special structure to manage image rights after joining Real from Manchester United in 2010, saying he used the set-up deemed “legal and legitimate” by English tax authorities.
If the case is sent to trial and he is found guilty, Ronaldo could face a fine of “at least €28 million” and three-and-a-half years’ jail. At his age, such an outcome would be likely to end his football career.