Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo has been alleged to a tax fraud case amounting to $13m by the Spanish authorities from the period of 2011 to 2014. Though the Portuguese is currently helping his country in the ongoing FIFA Confederations Cup, there are serious speculations that the Portuguese forward may likely leave Madrid due to the tax case.
The 32-year-old former United forward is yet to appear in court over the allegation, but the case which seems similar to that of Lionel Messi appears different as the defence which the Madrid forward is putting up may land him in jail.
What Is The Similarity Between Messi And Ronaldo’s Case?
The duo of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were involved in evading tax in Spain, by getting the services of offshore companies to sell their image rights outside Spain. This has led allegations of tax fraud by the Spanish Tax authorities. Though Ronaldo was registered as a non-tax payer under the Beckham law, Messi has lived all his adulthood in Spain.
What Is The Difference Between Ronaldo And Messi’s Case ?
Messi was not in anyway handling his image rights sales transaction, his father was fully in charge of that and this led to Messi putting up claims in court that “he trust his father, he only sign the papers which his father give to him without reading it”.
On the other hand Cristiano Ronaldo’s company (Tollin Associates) which is registered in the British Virgin Island is responsible for the sales of the Portuguese’ image right, and this puts Ronaldo directly involved in the business, making it obvious that he is aware of all transactions that goes on about the sales of his image rights.
What Is Their Defence?
Lionel Messi claimed being ignorant of the transactions as his father is the person in charge, but the judge told the Argentine that his argument is not accepted as he cannot claim that he is totally ignorant of such transactions.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s case appear a bit technical but interesting, his llegal team argue that Ronaldo has paid tax to the Spanish treasury on 20% of his total image rights, when in fact more than 90% of the image rights sold were done outside Spain, as he (Ronaldo) is a brand name globally known.
They also point that the only dispute on this matter can be quantity and that there has been no intention to defraud the Spanish government. None of their transactions were hidden and there was no intention to hide any of their transactions.
However, the tax officers in Spain have a contrary view to Ronaldo’s argument. They believe that while Ronaldo’s legal team argue that they sell his image rights outside Spain, Ronaldo wears certain boots, shirts and cap in Spain, how can he now claim he earns the money abroad?
Will Either of Messi Or Ronaldo Go To Jail?
Messi though found guilty will not go to jail, this is because of Spain’s unwritten two-year-sentence rule, this means that Messi can serve the jail term on probation.
On the other hand, it is a different case if Ronaldo is found guilty. Three of the four allegations of tax fraud are viewed by prosecutors to be “aggravated”, so they carry a minimum sentence of two years each. Four guilty verdicts and he could face as many as seven years.
However, an investigating judge will necessarily need to ratify the prosecutors’ accusations, and that could take many months or even years.
Even if the investigating magistrate does take up the case, the Portuguese will have several options and a guilty verdict would not necessarily mean jail.
Any Lifeline For Cristiano Ronaldo?
First, Cristiano Ronaldo would need to admit being guilty, then pay the taxes and fines in advance and reduce any eventual jail term to a half or quarter of the statutory minimum. By doing this he would slip under the standard two-year bar for first-time offenders and have his sentence suspended.