Juventus and Portugal soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo was fined almost 19 million euros ($21.6 million) for tax fraud Tuesday, but has avoided a 23-month prison sentence after agreeing a deal.
Ronaldo was denied a request to appear at the hearing via video link and arrived at the courthouse in person, holding hands with his Spanish fiancee Georgina Rodriguez. He was inside for around 45 minutes, before emerging again smiling and pausing to sign autographs before leaving in a black van.
The 33-year-old Juventus forward, who played for Real Madrid from 2009 until 2018, agreed to settle the case by paying an 18.8 million euro fine and accepting a suspended jail sentence.
Under Spanish law, a first offender can serve anything less than a two-year sentence under probation and Ronaldo will not have to go to prison.
Roanldo is a five-time world footballer of the year and helped former club Real Madrid to four European Cup triumphs. His presence in Madrid on this occasion was only needed to sign off on the previously settled agreement.
In 2017, Ronaldo denied the accusation that he knowingly used a business structure to hide income generated by his image rights 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.
Ronaldo's achievements at Real Madrid also extended to him becoming the clubs all-time top goal scorer with 450 strikes coming from only 438 games. However, that hasn't stopped his former employees in Spain from distancing themselves from him since his departure.
Following Ronaldo's 100 million euro transfer to Juventus last summer, Real Madrid has since unfollowed him on all of its social media platforms, as well as cutting back on his visibility on its official website.
Separately, Ronaldo is also facing a rape allegation in the United States.
Model and former school worker Kathryn Mayorga filed a civil lawsuit in Nevada in September claiming Ronaldo raped her in his Las Vegas hotel room in 2009. Police reopened an investigation into the allegation at her request. Ronaldo has denied any wrongdoing.