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EFE - Soccer stars Cristiano Ronaldo, Xabi Alonso to face tax fraud verdict

Madrid, Jan 18 (EFE).- Former Real Madrid soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo has been summoned to face the verdict of a Spanish court for allegedly committing tax fraud which could see the Portugal forward receive a suspended prison sentence as well as a large fine, prosecutors said on Friday.
The Madrid regional court also summoned former Spain and Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso to hear its verdict on Jan. 22 at 10 am.
Ronaldo, who played for Real Madrid between 2009-18 before transferring to Italy's Juventus Turin last summer, has reached a plea deal with the prosecution in which he admitted to having committed four tax crimes between 2011-14 and is therefore set to receive a reduced two-year prison sentence and a fine of 18.8 million euros ($21.44 million).
Alonso, meanwhile, maintained his innocence and has failed to reach an agreement with prosecutors, who are asking for a sentence of five years' imprisonment and a 4-million-euro fine on three counts of tax evasion allegedly committed between 2010-12.
The retired Basque midfielder, who was at Real Madrid between 2009-14, is the first in a long string of soccer players accused of tax fraud in recent years who will actually sit in the dock to defend his innocence.
Ronaldo had initially attempted this same strategy, telling a judge that he had never hidden any income and had no intention of evading taxes, but his attorneys later convinced him to accept the charges so as to receive a smaller penalty.
Prosecutors estimated that Ronaldo had defrauded some 14.7 million euros, although they reduced the figure to 5.7 million euros after the Portuguese star took the plea deal. Between interests and fines, however, he will have to hand over almost 19 million euros to the public purse.
According to the prosecution, Ronaldo used a shell company created in 2010 to hide from the tax agency the income generated in Spain by his image rights, which constitutes a "conscious and voluntary" failure to comply with his fiscal obligations.
In addition, Ronaldo declared an income of 11.5 million euros between 2011-14, when in reality it was closer to 43 million euros.
He also failed to declare another 28.4 million euros derived from his image rights, which he had ceded to an offshore shell company called Adifore Finance LTD – based in the British Virgin Islands, a well-known tax haven – for the period between 2015-20.
Ronaldo joins other soccer players such as Luka Modric, Marcelo, Radamel Falcao, Angel Di Maria and Javier Mascherano in accepting a plea deal with Spanish authorities for crimes against the public treasury.
Alonso, on the other hand, is accused of conspiring with his tax adviser, Ivan Zaldua, and the administrator of the Portuguese consultancy group Kardazli Comercio Serviços de Consultoría e Investimentos LDA, Ignasi Maestre, to evade taxation on his image rights.
Prosecutors have also asked for a five-year jail sentence for Zaldua and Maestre, as well as an individual fine of 4 million euros for each of the three defendants and a joint payment of 2,032,845 million euros to the tax agency representing the amount allegedly evaded plus interests.
In mid-2009, the accused allegedly conspired to set up a sham cession of Alonso's image rights with the aim of obtaining an illegal profit through the evasion of taxes.
On Aug. 9 of that year, the player – on Zaldua's advice – signed a contract in which he simulated ceding his image rights to the Kardazli company, based on the Portuguese archipelago Madeira and managed by Maestre.
Kardazli actually belonged to a shell company in Panama of which Alonso owned 100 percent of shares since Dec. 16, 2009.

EFE-EPA Multimedia Desk, Madrid
+34 913 467 493

Agency : EFE

Date : 2019-01-19 10:24:45


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