Football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo appeared before a judge today to deny charges that he swindled more than £13million in tax,
The Real Madrid and Portugal striker slipped past 100 journalists and cameramen in the Spanish capital to enter the court through a side door.
He is accused of having used a company structure to conceal huge image rights earnings from the Spanish authorities.
The 32-year-old star faces up to three-and-a-half years in jail and a fine of £25million if found guilty.
Following the hearing at Pozuelo de Alarcon in Madrid, his agent Inaki Torres read a denial on his behalf outside court.
“I have never hidden anything, nor have I had the intention of evading taxes,” it said. “I always voluntarily file my tax returns because I think we all must file a return and pay taxes according to our income.
“Those that know me, know what I ask my advisers: That they have everything up to date and properly paid because I don’t want problems.”
Ronaldo is the world’s highest-paid sports star after signing a £43million-a-year deal with his club last November.
The former Manchester United ace also earns tens of millions more from modelling, sponsorship deals and endorsements with companies, like Nike, Armani and Coca-Cola.
Spanish prosecutors say the four-times world player of the year evaded tax with the help of offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands and Ireland.
They alleged that in the three years to 2014, he only declared earnings of £10.3million when they were closer to £35.5million.
The authorities also accuse Ronaldo of refusing to include £25million in image rights income earned over five years.
Ronaldo told the court that he did not create a “special structure” to manage his image rights when he moved to Real but maintained one was set up in 2004 while he was at Manchester United.