16th July 2024
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Spanish tennis star Sánchez Vicario avoids prison over €6.6 million debt

The former women’s world No.1 tennis player and four-time Grand Slam winner, Arantxa Sánchez Vicario, together with her ex-husband, Josep Santacana, have been found guilty of fraud, a Spanish court ruled on Wednesday.

The Barcelona-based court found that Sánchez Vicario, 52, and her former husband had hidden assets in an attempt to avoid paying a multi-million euro debt to Banque de Luxembourg.

Sánchez Vicario was handed a two-year suspended prison sentence for concealing assets to avoid paying a debt to a bank. She avoided going behind bars since the court waived her sentence as a first-time offender. She reached a deal with prosecutors last year to admit to the accusations in exchange for a reduced sentence.

Santacana, who managed Sánchez Vicario’s accounts, was given a longer sentence of three years and three months in prison, Catalonia’s High Court said in a statement following the trial.

Sánchez Vicario had blamed Santacana, arguing he had been handling her money and that she was not aware of any illegality or assets being tampered with.

The case stems from the former tennis star being ordered in 2009 by the Supreme Court to pay a €5.2 million fine for tax fraud between 1989 and 2003, when she was resident in Spain rather than Andorra, as she had said.

The Spanish state collected the money through the Bank of Luxembourg but the bank later accused the couple, who divorced in 2019, of failing to pay back the debt and concealing assets.

The former couple were also ordered to pay €6.6 million to the Luxembourg bank. Three other defendants were sentenced to one year and three months in prison, plus a fine.

The sentence stated that ‘the defendant … had and has always had sufficient assets to meet her debt and that, by acts of sale and evasion of seizure actions, she had prevented its recovery’.

Sánchez Vicario won the French Open in 1989, 1994, and 1998 and the US Open in 1994, spending 12 weeks as world No.1 in 1995.

She won the Wimbledon women’s doubles title in 1995 and is a two-time Wimbledon singles finalist, losing to German great Steffi Graf on both occasions – 1995 and 1996.

The Spaniard also won two bronze and two silver medals representing Spain at the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games.

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