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Sunday, 13 August, 2000, 01:39 GMT 02:39 UK
Ronaldo tackled over customs duty
Ronaldo
Ronaldo is one of the world's highest paid footballers

By the BBC's Stephen Cviic in Sao Paulo

Brazilian federal police say they want access to the bank details of the country's most famous current football star, Ronaldo, who they suspect of failing to pay customs duties.

According to police, Ronaldo is suspected of having failed to pay the correct duty on goods which he bought during a trip to the border town of Ciudad del Este, in neighbouring Paraguay, last year.

Ronaldo says his purchases did not exceed the legal limit of $150, but according to one report he spent several thousand dollars during the visit.

Ciudad del Este is a well-known haven for Brazilian bargain hunters, attracted by low taxes and often by the possibility of smuggling goods back across the frontier.

Conclusive

Ronaldo went there last year during the Copa America football tournament, which was being held in Paraguay.

Television pictures and photographs prove conclusively that he did go shopping in the area.

Ronaldo
Ronaldo is currently injured

According to one report he spent up to $14,000 on goods, including Mont Blanc and Cartier watches. He then returned to Brazil by helicopter.

Ronaldo does not deny that he spent some money, but he insists that he did not go above the legal limit.

His lawyers are accusing the policeman in charge of the case of staging a publicity stunt, using Ronaldo's famous name to promote his own ambitions.

Ronaldo is currently off the field because of a knee injury, but even so he remains one of the world's most highly paid sportsmen.

His club, Inter Milan, pay him a salary of $5.5m a year and he also benefits from many sponsorship deals, whose value is rarely revealed.

In theory, he faces a fine and a prison sentence of up to three years if found guilty of the charges.

However, given the slowness of the Brazilian legal system, Ronaldo is probably sleeping easy in his bed.

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