Soccer sensation Cristiano Ronaldo has avoided serving time in prison after cutting a deal with Spanish courts over tax evasion charges.
The 33-year-old Juventus forward appeared in court in Madrid on Tuesday where he pleaded guilty to tax fraud and accepted a $28-million fine and a two-year suspended jail sentence as part of a deal.
The deal included a 23-month prison sentence but under Spanish law, a first-time offender does not usually do time for sentences under two years. Ronaldo will not have to go to prison and will instead serve his sentence under probation.
Ronaldo, who is considered one of the best soccer players in the world, exited the courtroom smiling and stopped to sign autographs for fans before leaving. He was accompanied by his Spanish fiancee Georgina Rodriguez.
The court appearance was said to have lasted under 15 minutes, as the agreement had been settled in advance and only required the five-time Ballon d’Or winner to sign off on the deal.
Ronaldo was accused of hiding income generated in Spain between 2010 and 2014 when he was playing for Real Madrid. The case revolved around deals involving the soccer star’s image rights.
Prosecutors said Ronaldo knowingly hid his earnings by using low-tax companies in foreign nations to avoid paying the required tax in Spain. According to Spanish news agency EFE, Ronaldo acknowledged four incidents, totalling €5.7 million.
Ronaldo’s lawyers originally argued it was a misunderstanding and not a deliberate attempt to evade tax. A deal was struck in June 2018.