Cristiano Ronaldo and his inner circle claim they are increasingly certain that the boarding of his luxury yacht on Wednesday by armed Spanish tax inspectors was part of a concerted and excessive campaign against the Real Madrid star player.
The Spanish Tax Agency has stated the inspection of the yacht off the coast of Ibiza was a routine matter – inspectors regularly check the paperwork of such vessels off the Balearic Islands to ensure that owners are not trying to avoid a 12% sales tax by claiming boats they have actually purchased are only rented.
But with the 32-year-old Ronaldo facing allegations that he evaded €14.7 million in tax from 2011 to 2014 by hiding income from his image rights through the use of a shell company in the Virgin Islands, the player and his entourage believe Wednesday’s inspection was a further act of persecution.
Ronaldo’s agents say the filming of the inspection of his yacht was is evidence it is part of a concerted campaign
Indeed, the response from the firm that represents the soccer star, Gestifute – the activities of which are also being looked at by Spanish tax authorities – was incredulity. They noted Ronaldo had been renting yachts for his vacations for several years and this was the first time any of them had been inspected.
Ronaldo’s representatives also noted the yacht, Aya, did not belong to the Real Madrid player. They explained that the vessel was sailing under the British ensign and highlighted all paperwork related to the yacht was publicly available. In addition, the exact location of the vessel could be also be tracked in real time using dedicated internet sites – a fact later independently confirmed by EL PAÍS.
The boarding of Ronaldo’s vessel was spectacular but unnecessary, his representatives added. They argue that the fact that photos of the inspection were leaked to the press via the celebrity news magazine Hola! and that the Tax Agency operation was filmed are evidence that it was part of a media campaign against their client.
After news broke of the Tax Agency allegations of tax evasion by Ronaldo, the Portuguese sports daily A Bola reported that the star hoped to leave Spain. Real Madrid denied these rumors but one month on, there have been no denials about his desire to leave the country from the player who has played a key role in golden ages for both Real Madrid and the Portuguese national team.
Indeed, rumors continue to circulate as to his possible future destination with clubs including Manchester United, Paris St. Germain and Monaco all being mentioned in the press.
Ronaldo is expected to appear in court over the tax fraud allegations on July 31.
English version by George Mills.