Spanish prosecutors accuse Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti of tax fraud

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has denied wrongdoing after Spanish prosecutors accused him of tax fraud claiming he used shell companies to hide parts of his income during his first stint at the club a decade ago.

Prosecutors in Madrid said they are accusing Ancelotti of two counts of tax fraud and are seeking a prison sentence of four years and nine months.

They accused the Italian coach of having defrauded a million euros in 2014 and 2015 by only declaring the income he received from Real Madrid while omitting his income from image rights.

“The tax authority says that I was a resident at the time and I don’t think that I was a resident,” he said after his team sealed a spot in the Champions League quarter-finals.

“I already paid the fine, the money is with them, and now the lawyers are talking to try to find a solution. I’m convinced that I’m innocent, that I was not a resident in 2015, and they think that I was a resident. Let’s see what the judge says.”

Many professional players and managers set up a company that owns the rights to use their name and image for commercial purposes, but prosecutors claim Ancelotti set up a “confusing” system of shell companies to hide his extra earnings.

Ancelotti allegedly used companies “lacking any real activity” based outside Spain “so that neither he nor the mentioned companies had to pay taxes on the large sums earned in Spain or outside our country”, the prosecutors said. One of the companies was based in the Virgin Islands.

They said Ancelotti did not declare earnings related to image rights that reached 1.2 million euros in 2014 and nearly 3 million euros in 2015, and also omitted declaring two properties he owned abroad.

Carlo Ancelotti
Ancelotti managed Chelsea and Everton in England (Rebecca Naden/PA)

The 64-year-old coached Madrid from 2013-15 before rejoining the club in 2021.

Ancelotti is one of football’s most successful coaches. He is the only coach to have won the Champions League four times, twice with Madrid and twice with AC Milan, and the only coach to have won domestic league titles in England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France.

He is the latest in a string of major football figures to face a crackdown by Spanish authorities over unpaid taxes, although none has been sent to prison so far.

Former Madrid coach Jose Mourinho received a one-year suspended sentence after reaching a guilty plea for tax fraud in 2019.

Star players Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo — among others — have also been found guilty of tax fraud in Spain. They were also accused of using shell companies outside Spain to hide revenue from image rights.

Ronaldo agreed to pay a fine of nearly 19 million euros in 2019, and was handed a two-year suspended sentence.

Messi and his father were found guilty of defrauding tax authorities of 4.1 million euros but also avoided a jail sentence by paying hefty fines.

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