Cristiano Ronaldo pleads guilty to tax fraud at Madrid court

Headline Legal News

With a guilty plea and a huge fine, Cristiano Ronaldo finally put an end to his tax ordeal in Spain.

Nearly four years after an investigation was opened, Ronaldo appeared at a court in Madrid on Tuesday to plead guilty to tax fraud and agree to a fine of nearly 19 million euros ($21.6 million).

The Juventus forward, who was facing charges stemming from his days at Real Madrid, spent about 45 minutes in court to sign the agreement. He was also given a two-year suspended sentence.

Ronaldo will not have to serve time in prison because judges in Spain can suspend sentences for two years or less for first-time offenders.

The Portugal star smiled broadly after leaving court despite the unwanted trip back to Madrid, where he played until last summer.

“It’s done,” he said briefly as he walked past some of the hundreds of journalists outside the court house.

He later posted a photo on Twitter of himself smiling while apparently taking a selfie inside an airplane. The picture was accompanied by emoticons that included a “thumbs-up.”

Ronaldo arrived in court in a black van and was wearing sunglasses, a black sports coat, black pants and white tennis shoes. He stopped to sign an autograph before walking up some stairs leading to the court house. He was accompanied by his lawyers and his partner, Georgina Rodriguez. Police officers escorted him.

The court had dismissed Ronaldo’s request to enter the building directly from the parking lot, which would have allowed him to avoid the media. The request was made for security reasons, but the court said it didn’t think the measure was needed despite the player’s notoriety.

Court officials said Ronaldo didn’t make any comments while in the courtroom to sign the agreement.

On his way out of the court house, he again stopped to sign autographs for a few fans who were wedged among the journalists. He also made a thumbs-up sign as people gathered near the court.

Ronaldo made the deal to plead guilty with Spain’s state prosecutor and tax authorities last year.

The investigation reportedly began in 2015, and two years later a state prosecutor accused Ronaldo of four counts of tax fraud from 2011-14 worth 14.7 million euros ($16.7 million). Ronaldo was accused of having used shell companies outside Spain to hide income made from image rights.

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