Ronaldo to plead guilty to tax fraud in Madrid court

(AP Photo)

By TALES AZZONI

AP Sports Writer

MADRID (AP) Cristiano Ronaldo will make an unwanted trip back to Madrid on Tuesday 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 euros ($21.6 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 euros ($16.7 million). 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 on Monday dismissed Ronaldo's request to enter the building directly from the parking lot, which would have allowed the player 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.

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 soccer 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.

Former Real Madrid player Xabi Alonso is also expected to face a judge in Madrid on Tuesday. He is accused of defrauding tax authorities of about 2 million euros ($2.3 million) from 2010-12.

He could be sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of 4 million euros ($4.5 million), in addition to the amount allegedly defrauded. The charges are related to Alonso's income from image rights.

The retired Spain midfielder, who has denied any wrongdoing, played for Madrid from 2009-14.

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Updated January 21, 2019

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