Former Real Madrid defender Ricardo Carvalho became the latest in a series of football stars to be convicted on charges of tax fraud in Spain as he was handed a seven-month jail term, a court filing confirmed on Friday.
Sentences under two years for first time offenders in Spain are habitually suspended so the Portuguese defender, now playing in China for Shanghai SIPG, is likely to avoid prison.
Carvalho, 39, was also handed a 142,822 euro ($168,000) fine after being found guilty of a fraud totalling 545,981 euros on income derived from his image rights in 2011 and 2012, which he had already repaid as the court ratified an agreement between the player and Spanish prosecutors.
As with other high-profile cases involving footballers, the use of a shell company in the British Virgin Isles to which Carvalho had ceded his image rights was deemed illegal.
Barcelona duo Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano received 21-month and one-year suspended sentences respectively after being found guilty of tax fraud over their image rights in 2016.
However, five-time World Player of the Year Messi’s sentence was later replaced by a 252,000 euro fine.
Real’s all-time leading scorer Cristiano Ronaldo appeared in court for a preliminary hearing in July and could yet face trial over accusations he evaded 14.7 million euros ($17.5 million) worth of tax on his image rights between 2011 and 2014.