Footballer Cristiano Ronaldo has appeared at a Spanish court where he was facing allegations he evaded millions in tax. Prosecutors accuse Ronaldo, reported to be the world’s highest paid athlete, of evading €14.7m ($17.3m; £13.1m) in tax.
He had been expected to make a statement after the pre-trial hearing, but left without saying a word. The Real Madrid star, 32, has previously denied the allegations, saying his “conscience is clear”.
Ronaldo is the latest in a string of footballers to be pursued by the Spanish tax authorities. Argentina’s Lionel Messi, who plays for Barcelona, was handed a 21-month prison sentence after being found guilty of the same charge last year.
Earlier this month, the court ruled he could pay €252,000 in place of jail time. However, Messi was only accused of evading €4.1m in tax, €10.6m less than Ronaldo.
Ronaldo spent hour-and-a-half giving evidence to judges at a court in the Madrid suburb of Pozuelo de Alarcón on Monday, dodging the media camped outside by arriving and leaving via an underground garage.
The stage was set for Ronaldo, in more ways than one. Around 40 TV crews and over 100 journalists had gathered at the small court in the Madrid suburb of Pozeulo. But Ronaldo dodged them on arrival – choosing to enter the court by a side door.