Manchester United tax fraud convict Alexis Sanchez accepts 16 months prison sentence

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Manchester United striker Alexis Sanchez has been sentenced to 16 months in prison for committing tax fraud during his time as a Barcelona player.

The Chilean was accused of defrauding the Spanish Treasury of €1m (£890,000) while at the Catalan side in 2012 to 2013 by using a shell company in Malta to avoid being taxed on the image rights he was earning.

Sanchez, who left Arsenal for the Old Trafford club last month, reached an agreement with the Office of the Attorney General and the State Attorney where paid back all the money plus tax and a 16-month sentence, although he will not serve any jail time.

In Spain, only sentences more than 24 months are met with actual jail time although Sanchez will be incarcerated if he commits a similar crime within the next two years.

The 29-year-old’s sentence follows a string of high-profile footballers who have been investigated for tax fraud including Jose Mourinho and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Sanchez’s former Barca teammate Lionel Messi received a 21-month prison sentence, reduced to a €252,000 (£223,000) fine, for defrauding the Spanish tax authorities of €3.1m (£2.76m).