Man Utd star Alexis Sanchez spared jail over Malta company tax fraud

Footballer admitted defrauding Spaniish tax authorities of €980,000 using Maltese company Numidia Trading to hive off revenues from image rights

Alexis Sanchez celebrates a goal for Manchester United over Huddersfield
Alexis Sanchez celebrates a goal for Manchester United over Huddersfield

Manchester United star Alexis Sanchez has been handed a 16-month suspended prison sentence after being sentenced for tax fraud.

Sanchez admitted defrauding Spanish tax authorities of over €9800,000 from image rights during his time at Barcelona, using a Maltese company.

He has now been fined €590,000 and will also re-pay the money to the authorities, but will avoid a jail sentence if he does not commit a crime in the next two years.

The Chile forward set up a Maltese company called Numidia Trading in a tax avoidance scheme to stop paying on his image rights deals between 2012 and 2013.

The Chilean footballer is the 99% shareholder in the Maltese company Numidia Trading, the other 1% held by the Amicorp financial services firm, based in Ta’ Xbiex.

Sanchez, who played for Barcelona for three years from 2011, is alleged to have defrauded the Spanish Treasury by an amount totalling €983,443 in 2012 and 2013.

A criminal complaint was raised against the 28-year-old by prosecutor Miguel Angel Perez de Gregorio over a failure to pay tax on image rights.

In 2013, company records shows Sanchez booked a total of €1.1 million in profits in his Malta tax-registered firm. It is claimed he simulated the transfer of those image rights to Numidia Trading, and failed to declare his earnings in full.

The prosecutor’s official complaint accuses Sanchez of “simulating” the transfer of his image rights to a company described as a “purely instrumental entity” used to facilitate “fraud committed against the Spanish Treasury”.

Sanchez signed a contract with Barcelona in July 2011 in which he declared that he was the owner of his image rights, when in fact he had apparently transferred those rights to a company called Inversiones Alsan in Chile in 2008 – of which he owns 99 per cent – before they were moved to Numidia three years later.

Sanchez is not the first player to be involved in tax fraud allegations while playing for Barcelona. Lionel Messi and his father, Jorge, were found guilty of defrauding Spanish tax authorities of €4.1 million, earning him a 21-month suspended sentence after paying €1.7m in fines and a voluntary repayment of €5.1m in August 2013.

Javier Mascherano was given a suspended prison sentence of one year after admitting to two counts of tax fraud. He repaid his debt in full and paid a fine before his punishment.