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Article by Tariq Panja | Found on

Soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has been accused of failing to pay 14.7 million euros ($16.5 million) in taxes.

The prosecutor’s office in Madrid filed a lawsuit that alleges that the 31-year-old knowingly used offshore accounts to hide income from his image-rights payments. The charges come months after Spanish newspaper El Mundo published leaked documents revealing details of the offshore holdings of several soccer players, including Ronaldo. The tax evasion relates to a three-year period starting in 2011.

A spokeswoman for Ronaldo’s management company said there wouldn’t be an immediate comment.

Ronaldo, who led Real Madrid to win both the Spanish league and European Cup, is just the latest high profile soccer player to face prosecution over tax affairs. Earlier this month a court rejected Lionel Messi’s appeal over a tax fraud conviction. Messi’s Barcelona teammate Neymar is also being prosecuted in Spain over his transfer from Brazilian team Santos in 2013.

The management team for the four-time world soccer player of the year responded earlier this year to the tax allegations against him by releasing his 2015 tax declaration. It revealed he held assets outside of Spain worth more than 203 million euros.

“This communication, which was not required by law, constitutes irrefutable proof that Cristiano Ronaldo and his representatives are in good faith, and cooperate with the authorities in a spirit of transparency and compliance with legality,” the agency Gestifute said.

Ronaldo is the best paid athlete in the world, according to a report last week by Forbes magazine, which estimated that he earned $93 million over the past 12 months. The Portuguese forward scored 42 goals in all competitions this season, including two in the Champions League final as Real became the first team to retain the title.

The Madrid prosecutor said in his 2014 tax return Ronaldo claimed to have recorded revenue from Spanish sources between 2011 and 2013 of 11.5 million euros, though in reality that number was almost 43 million euros.

In January Ronaldo cited the pressure of the scrutiny when he was awarded the prestigious Balon D’Or award for soccer’s best player. “There are a lot of innocent people in jail and I feel a bit like that,” he said. “You know you didn’t do anything wrong, and they say you did something wrong.”

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