/Soccer star Ronaldo, facing tax fraud accusations, arrives in Spanish court

Soccer star Ronaldo, facing tax fraud accusations, arrives in Spanish court

Portugal’s soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo arrives with his girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez to appear in court on a trial for tax fraud in Madrid, Spain, January 22, 2019. REUTERS/Susana Vera

MADRID (Reuters) – Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo arrived in court in Madrid on Tuesday to face accusations of tax fraud, where he is expected to plead guilty after striking a deal last year with authorities.

Ronaldo smiled but said nothing as he walked past journalists into court, hand in hand with his Spanish fiancée, Georgina Rodriguez.

The 33-year-old Juventus forward agreed to settle the case by paying an 18.8 million euro ($21.3 million) fine and accepting a suspended jail sentence.

Under Spanish law, a first offender can serve anything less than a two-year sentence under probation Ronaldo would not have to go to jail.

The court appearance is expected to be short. Court officials say the player would only have to confirm that he accepted the deal.

Earlier, Ronaldo’s former teammate at Real Madrid, Xabi Alonso, walked in to face own case of tax fraud with his hands deep in his suit pockets. “Yes, all good,” was his only response to journalists’ questions.

Ronaldo was forced to enter the courtroom through the front door after his request for special security measures to avoid the spotlight was denied on Monday.

In 2017, Ronaldo denied the accusation that he knowingly used a business structure to hide income that his image rights generated in Spain between 2011 and 2014.

After reaching the deal, he paid a fine of 5.7 million euros, plus interest of about 1 million euros, in July 2018, the prosecutor’s office said last week.

Reporting by Isla Binnie; Writing by Paul Day; editing by John Stonestreet and Andrew Heavens

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