As superstar Cristiano Ronaldo was busy scoring a hat trick against Spain in the World Cup Friday, the Spanish government was settling the superstar’s tax fraud case with a $21.7 million fine and a two-year suspended prison sentence, keeping him from serving any jail time.
According to Spanish newspaper El Mundo, Ronaldo was accused of avoiding taxes in Spain between 2011 and 2014, specifically in relation to his image rights. The Spanish government reportedly contends Ronaldo defrauded their tax authority of nearly $18 million by funneling money into Ireland, which is known as a tax haven. Ronaldo, as part of the settlement, reportedly admitted to four counts of tax evasion after denying any wrongdoing last year at the start of the case. He initially offered to pay the Spanish government about $17 million, but the offer was rejected.
Pundits say the leaked report of Ronaldo’s agreement with the Spanish government is only lending credence to speculation that he could leave Real Madrid after the World Cup. It’s been suggested that Ronaldo is unhappy with the team for several reasons, including its lack of action on his tax evasion case. Ronaldo led Portugal to a 3-3 draw with Spain Friday with three goals, including a late equalizer.