November 8 – A Spanish judge has re-opened the case against Brazilian star Neymar and his father to stand trial on fraud charges relating to his 2013 move to Barcelona from Santos.
Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu and his predecessor Sandro Rosell, who used to play a key role in the European Club Association, are also set to stand trial after Brazilian investment group DIS – which owned 40% of Neymar’s third-party rights when he completed his transfer – complained they had received less money than they should have done because part of the fee was concealed.
Back in March Neymar was ordered to pay €45.9 million in fines and back-taxes but now he faces further court judgement.
DIS claims they only received €6.8 million of Santos’s €17 million fee and argues they were shortchanged. Prosecutors now claim the total amount paid by Barca to Santos was €25.1 million, meaning DIS would be entitled to an additional $3.2 million.
In June, Barcelona paid a fine of €5.5 million (£4.89 million) to settle a separate case brought by Spain’s tax authorities. In that agreement, the club acknowledged it made “an error in the fiscal planning of the player’s transfer”.
Prosecutors now have 10 days to formalise their request for a trial after Monday’s ruling, made at Spain’s National Court by judge Jose de la Mata.
Barcelona said they will appeal against the ruling. “The board expressed its surprise and total disagreement with this development and its reasoning, especially taking into account the same magistrate’s decision to dismiss the case last July and no action took place against the president Bartomeu,” a statement said. “If the judicial action starts, FC Barcelona will maintain the innocence of those who are being investigated.”
In July, De la Mata ruled that FIFA regulations were “clearly not properly followed,” but declared that the issue was not for the criminal courts to settle but for a civil court, effectively shelving the DIS complaint. However, prosecutors successfully argued in September that both Neymar and his father had been aware of potentially fraudulent dealings between Barcelona and Santos and de la Mata was ordered to reopen the case in September by Spain’s Supreme Court.
Since moving to the Nou Camp, Neymar has won two La Liga titles, two Copa del Rey trophies, the Champions League, the European Super Cup, the Spanish Super Cup and the Club World Cup.
He signed a new five-year contract with Barcelona in October.
Contact the writer of this story at email@example.com