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Men’s Football Alexis Sanchez to avoid jail over Spanish tax-dodging

MANCHESTER UNITED striker Alexis Sanchez was sentenced to 16 months in prison yesterday for committing tax fraud in Spain, but will not serve any jail time.

Prosecutors said the 29-year-old had been handed two eight-month sentences for evading tax during his time at Barcelona.

The new United signing will not go to prison as first-time offenders avoid jail if the sentence is less than two years.

Sanchez reportedly stitched up a deal with prosecutors, having been accused of defrauding the Spanish treasury of €1 million (£900,000) and hiding the income he made from “image rights” between 2012 and 2013.

The Chilean forward will have to pay back that figure plus interest, along with a fine of €590,065 (£523,000) and will not receive tax breaks in Spain for two years.

The striker left Arsenal for United last month and is now thought to be the highest-paid player in the Premier League. 

His exact salary is unknown, but former boss Arsene Wenger has hinted that Sanchez could be paid more than £600,000 a week at his new club. 

Sanchez is the just latest highly paid sportsperson to be embroiled in tax-dodging.

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi was found guilty last summer of defrauding the Spanish treasury of €4.1m (£3.6m) from 2007-9. 

The Spanish state also found the Argentinian guilty of stashing his money in tax havens in Belize and Uruguay. 

The Paradise Papers leak revealed last year that Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton avoided paying taxes on his £16.5m private jet by using a scheme developed in the Isle of Man which allows the super-rich to reduce VAT bills to zero. 

Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Angel Di Maria and former Liverpool and Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano have both been convicted in Spain of tax evasion in recent years, while Cristiano Ronaldo is currently fighting alleged tax fraud charges.

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