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Cristiano Ronaldo accused of tax fraud by Spanish agency

Spanish prosecutors are considering whether Cristiano Ronaldo should face charges over allegations by the country's tax agency that he defrauded the authorities of €15 million between 2011 and 2014.

Prosecutors said they have until the end of June to decide whether to charge the Real Madrid star, based on evidence from an investigation by tax officials, who believe the Portugal international may have committed wrongdoing.

Ronaldo attempted to regularise his tax situation in Spain in 2014 by paying an extra €5.6m, but the tax office believes Ronaldo should have had to pay a further €15m.

The tax office asked prosecutors to press charges against Ronaldo for tax fraud and requested a minimum five-year jail term.

Prosecutors said that if they decided to charge the Portugal captain, and if he was subsequently found guilty by a court, he would face a prison sentence of at least 15 months -- one quarter of the five years. 

At that level of sentence, it would be unlikely Ronaldo would go to jail as a first-time offender.

The union of employees (GESTHA) at Spain's tax office "lamented" the delay in referring the case to prosecutors but welcomed the move by the tax authorities.

Carlos Cruzado, the president of GESTHA, told Cadena Ser: "As a consequence of the investigation which was opened in December 2015, the prosecutor has said that there is evidence of a crime, and for the tax agency there are one or three tax crimes.

"The normal thing is that the prosecutor, seeing the charges, presents an official complaint. Another thing is that the judge accepts that and calls Cristiano Ronaldo to give evidence in court. If it continues he could be charged with three tax crimes, and in this case the minimum punishment would be three to five years. But if he admits the crime that would be lowered.

"It is not understood by the Tax Agency that the quantity which Cristiano paid in 2015 has served to sort out his debts. Ronaldo was using the 'Beckham Law' and just had to pay that year for his income in Spain, unlike Messi.

"These footballers use tax advisors who sometimes cross the tax evasion line, and sometimes it becomes tax crimes. These people should also be investigated, in the Cristiano Ronaldo case his advisors should also be investigated."

In December, news outlets including El Mundo received "Football Leaks" documents that claimed that Ronaldo, among other players and coaches, had avoided tax on earnings from image rights by having large sums in offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands, a tax haven.

Ronaldo's agents vehemently denied the claims and said the 32-year-old is "fully compliant with his tax obligations."

The allegations come one day after Spain's supreme court upheld Lionel Messi's 21-month suspended sentence for his conviction of tax fraud last year.

ESPN FC's Madrid correspondent contributed to this report.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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