Cristiano Ronaldo to pay $21 million fine over tax fraud

fotopress/GC Images(LONDON) — Global soccer icon Cristiano Ronaldo has signed an agreement to pay $21.6 million in fines after he pleaded guilty to tax fraud in a Madrid court on Tuesday.

The Portuguese striker, 33, now playing in Italy for Juventus, faced tax avoidance charges from his time as a player in Spain at Real Madrid.

The court also handed him a two-year suspended sentence, but under Spanish law, this means he will not face jail time.

Ronaldo appeared calm and collected outside the Madrid court. He signed autographs for fans and smiled at photographers and journalists alongside his girlfriend, Georgina Rodriguez.

He is the third richest athlete in the world, according to Forbes, with a total annual income of $108 million per year.

Ronaldo is widely considered to be one of the best soccer players in the world and one of the best of all time, having scored nearly 600 goals throughout his career for Manchester United, Real Madrid and his current team, Juventus.

His rival Lionel Messi, a fellow Ballon D’or winner, has also fallen foul of Spanish tax evasion authorities.

Messi was handed a 21-month suspended sentence, later commuted to a fine, after being found guilty of defrauding the Spanish government of around $4.5 million in 2016, according to the BBC.

The recent convictions of the high profile soccer players are due to the removal of a tax exemption for players, according to the BBC.

This is not the first run-in between Ronaldo and legal authorities in recent times.

Police in Las Vegas issued a warrant for a DNA sample from the soccer star in relation to a rape allegation from 2009, as reported by ABC on Jan. 10. Ronaldo was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in a hotel penthouse in Las Vegas.

The case was reopened last year when the woman claimed she was paid $375,000 by Ronaldo’s representatives in order to keep quiet. He denies the charges and has dismissed the claims as “fake news.”

Ronaldo’s press officer told ABC News he will not be issuing a statement about the settlement.

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