Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo told a Spanish judge that he never intentionally tried to the defraud the government by not paying his taxes.
Ronaldo spent Monday morning in a courtroom answering questions about his taxes.
Prosecutors in Spain filed a lawsuit accusing the soccer star of defrauding Spanish authorities of nearly $16.5 million in unpaid taxes over a three–year period.
Ronaldo told judge Monica Gomez: “I have never hidden anything, nor had the intention to avoid taxes," according to a statement released by his public relations firm.
Authorities say Ronaldo had knowingly used a "business structure" that was created in 2010 for the sole purpose of hiding his income in Spain from his image rights and a complaint was filed by The Economic Crime Section of the Provincial Prosecutor's Office of Madrid.
Ronaldo, 32, is accused of not paying 1.39 million euros in taxes in 2011, 1.66 million in 2012, 3.2 million in 2013 and 8.5 million in 2014.
According to Spanish law, because the tax amounts exceed 120,000 euros per year, not paying is a crime punishable by one to five years in prison.
Ronaldo is one of the world's highest paid athletes, according to Forbes Magazine, making an estimated $93 million in the past year—$58 million from his soccer salary and $35 million from endorsements.