If you grew up in the 1990s and you are a tennis nut, chances are you would have looked up to two ladies players as role models. Steffi Graf and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario. The former has settled into married bliss with another legend of the game Andre Agassi ,the later has gone into coaching having coached Caroline Wozniacki as recently as 2015. Arantxa unfortunately has found herself in the news for the wrong reasons lately. In her native Spain, authorities are seeking a hefty 4 year prison term for fraud. She is being accused of hatching a plan with her husband Josep Santacana to transfer assets out of Spain to avoid payment of debt. The debt was owed to Banque de Luxembourg to the tune of millions of Euros. The bank from Luxembourg had put up the money indirectly to cover the fine levied on Sanchez Vicario for tax fraud. Now, tax laws in Spain are notoriously tough with sportspersons a target by the authorities. Guys like Messi and Ronaldo have complained bitterly after finding themselves on the wrong side as well. This lending of money to pay for a fine sounds irresponsible by the Luxembourgish bank. There is no asset being bought using the funds and they did not secure title of the immovable assets as collateral. Sanchez got his Spanish bank to put up the money after getting a guarantee from Banque de Luxembourg. The Luxembourgish bank honored its side of the bargain but never received even one of the instalments from the other end. Thus the decision to seek legal recourse.
The accusations include changing ownership of an apartment in Barcelona , emptying their bank accounts and money received from cases won in court. This involved third parties who have also been charged. The amount of Banque de Luxembourg are claiming is in the region of EUR6 million. The husband Josep seemed like the dominant figure in all this and thankfully Arantxa has now separated from him. Hiring an accountant with knowledge of the country tax laws is paramount for athletes. There are various methods which are legal to avoid paying taxes (tax avoidance). One of the most common is to get a residence in a country with more lax tax regiments for foreigners. For example in Spain they have a resident tax in which you pay if you stay in Spain for more than 6 months. That being said there is also a sure fire way to avoid getting into tax trouble. That is to just pay them on time and get it over with. Once you start playing hide and seek with the authorities the fines and interest starts piling up and you will never make the payments. I hope Arantxa avoids jail though, it will be such a loss to tennis if she goes.