MADRID — Spanish media reports that Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo has agreed to plead guilty to tax fraud and pay a fine of 18.8 million euros ($21.8 milllion) in exchange for a prison sentence that would most likely be suspended.
Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported Friday that Ronaldo is ready to admit to four counts of tax fraud that would carry a prison sentence of two years. Prison sentences not over two years in Spain are often suspended for first-time offenders.
The deal has yet to be ratified by Spain’s Tax Office, according to different Spanish media including Europa Press news agency.
Neither Spain’s Tax Office, its Ministry of Justice nor people close to Ronaldo would confirm the existence of a deal when called by The Associated Press.
Reports of the deal came hours before Ronaldo scored three goals to give Portugal a 3-3 draw with Spain in their opening match of the World Cup in Russia.
One year ago, a Spanish state prosecutor accused Ronaldo of four counts of tax fraud from 2011-14 worth 14.7 million euros ($16.5 million). The prosecutor accused Ronaldo of having used shell companies outside Spain to hide income made from image rights. The accusation does not involve his salary from Real Madrid.
Ronaldo denied any wrongdoing when questioned by a judge last July.
In 2016, Barcelona forward Lionel Messi received a suspended 21-month jail sentence after being found guilty of defrauding tax authorities of 4.1 million euros (then $4.6 million). (The Associated Press)