THE LONG and drawn out fall from grace of former Spanish tennis star Arantxa Sanchez Vicario continued on Wednesday, after a court in Barcelona sentenced her to a two-year jail term for concealing assets.
Her ex-husband, Josep Santacana, was given three years and three months for the same offence, while the other defendants in the case were slapped with terms of one year and three months, according to Spanish agency reports.
What’s more, Sanchez, 52, and Santacana have been ordered to pay more than €6.6 million in compensation to the private bank Banque de Luxembourg.
Sanchez will not, however, see the inside of a prison cell, on the express order of the judge in the sentencing ruling. Prison sentences of two years and under are usually suspended for all first-time offenders in Spain.
The court found the former couple guilty of concealing assets in order to avoid paying back a €6 million loan from the Banque de Luxembourg they had taken out to pay off a fine with the Spanish Tax Agency of €5.2 million. The pair had incurred the fine for defrauding their taxes.
Sanchez had admitted to the offences during the trial, according to Spanish daily El Pais, and blamed the concealing of the assets on Santacana. The pair are currently engaged in a long-running court battle in the United States.
Santacana, meanwhile, maintained he was innocent and blamed the family of the former tennis player for the fraud.
The sentence can be appealed, meaning that it is highly unlikely that Santacana will start to serve his jail term until these legal processes have been exhausted.
Sanchez, who lives in Miami with her two children, first got into trouble with the Spanish taxman back in the 1990s, when the courts ruled that she was not living in the principality of Andorra, as she claimed, but rather in Spain.
In 2009, after a 14-year court battle, she was ordered to pay €3.5 million for taxes she evaded between 1989 and 1993.
On the sporting front, she was once the world number one in singles and doubles, and won 14 Grand Slams as well as four Olympic medals.
In an interview with El Pais, she claimed that she now lives from giving private tennis classes in Miami and that half of all that she earns goes to paying off her debt with the Banque de Luxembourg.
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