MADRID: Football megastar Cristiano Ronaldo appeared in court near Madrid on Monday accused of evading millions of euros in taxes, the latest player to fall foul of Spain’s taxman.
The 32-year-old entered the court in Pozuelo de Alarcon, a wealthy suburb of Madrid where he lives, in a car with tainted windows via an underground garage to avoid the glare of the dozens of cameras gathered outside.
The player is expected to speak to the press after his court hearing. A podium was set up outside the courthouse behind metal barriers.
The Portuguese star — the world’s highest paid athlete according to Forbes magazine — follows in the steps of his arch-rival, Barcelona forward and Argentina star Lionel Messi, who was found guilty of the same offence last year.
Other footballers have also recently run into trouble with Spain’s taxman, some of them already convicted and others under investigation.
Prosecutors accuse Ronaldo of having evaded 14.7 million euros ($17.3 million) in tax.
They allege he 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”.