Oct 2, 2023 - News

Tennis great Arantxa Sánchez Vicario is on trial for alleged fraud

A woman in a blue tennis outfit swings at a ball while children in the background watch

Arantxa Sánchez Vicario in India in 2019. Photo: MANJUNATH KIRAN/AFP via Getty Images

Spanish tennis legend Arantxa Sánchez Vicario and her ex-husband, Josep Santacana, are on trial in Barcelona. They're accused of hiding assets to avoid paying a $8.14 million (7.6 million euro) debt to Banque de Luxembourg, Reuters reported when the trial began Sept.12.

Why it matters: Sánchez Vicario and Santacana both live in Miami, where their divorce case has been playing out in family court for years.

  • The athlete told Spanish newspaper El Pais that she struggles financially here but gives tennis lessons and helps organize tournaments. This March, she hosted an event in conjunction with the Miami Open.

Catch up quick: Sánchez Vicario beat Steffi Graf and Venus Williams in famous matches and became world No. 1 in 1995. She retired in 2002.

  • Sánchez Vicario married Santacana in 2008. In 2009, she was fined 5.2 million euros for tax fraud by Spain's Supreme Court, and Banque de Luxembourg agreed to cover the fine, per Reuters.
  • The bank accused her of failing to repay the money and concealing assets. A Spanish court sided with the bank in 2014, but with the debt still unpaid — and having ballooned with interest — the bank resorted to the criminal courts.
  • Santacana faces four years in prison and Sánchez Vicario two years, though the judge can suspend the sentence so she does not have to serve time.

Context: In a 2012 memoir, Sánchez Vicario claimed her family had squandered her $60 million fortune, which her mother denied.

  • In 2014, she bought a penthouse in the luxury Paraiso Bay condominium in Edgewater.
  • After Sánchez Vicario and Santacana divorced in 2019, she reconciled with her family and began blaming Santacana for her financial problems.

Driving the news: Sánchez Vicario broke down in tears while testifying in Barcelona in September, saying she was naive about finances and trusted Santacana to manage her money.

The other side: Santacana testified that despite selling properties, they couldn't cover the debt, Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia reported.

  • In an interview with El Pais, Santacana disputed the notion that Sánchez Vicario struggles, saying she lives in a luxury apartment "200 meters from Enrique Iglesias' house."

What we're watching: Miami attorney Marta Colomar-Garcia, who represents Sánchez Vicario in the divorce case, tells Axios that further arguments in the Spanish case will take place later in October. The judge will decide the verdict.

  • Colomar-Garcia says the tennis star is trying to determine what happened to funds from the sale of properties in Spain and that the divorce case has become "more like an asset search case now."
  • Santacana's local attorney did not respond to our requests for comment.

Of note: Sánchez Vicario is also in litigation with the firm of her now-deceased former Miami divorce attorney, Maurice Kutner, regarding unpaid legal fees.


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