By Samindra Kunti
May 5 – Neymar and his father will stand trial over alleged fraud and corruption in the player’s transfer from Santos to FC Barcelona in 2013. The other defendants will be the current and former Barcelona presidents Josep Maria Bartomeu and Sandro Rosell, FC Barcelona, Santos and NN Consultoria. All have denied the charges.
In a high-profile transfer Neymar left Santos in Brazil in 2013, but ever since he moved the deal has been shrouded in mystery over alleged irregularities. Last summer Barcelona paid a fine of €5.5 million to the Spanish authorities to settle a related tax fraud case. The Catalan paid close to €100 million for Neymar and not the €57.1 million it originally declared.
Neymar has proven to be astute on the field, with the Brazilian a part of Barcelona’s South American forward trident alongside Lionel Messi and Louis Suarez. Off the pitch, his arrival has been a tangled web of legal complications. Both Spanish and Brazilian authorities are investigating his move to the Spanish League.
The current case relates to a complaint from Brazilian investment group DIS, which owned 40% of Neymar’s transfer rights and claims they didn’t receive their fair share of the transfer deal. They accuse Barcelona, Santos and the Neymar family of concealing the real transfer fee.
Spanish prosecutors now agree they have a case and are seeking a two-year prison sentence and a fine of nearly €10 million for Neymar. However, even if the Brazil international were found guilty, he wouldn’t go to jail. In the Spanish legal system prison terms of under two years are suspended for first-time offenders.
The decision to order Neymar to stand trial is a blow to the Brazilian’s image and that of Barcelona. Last July Lionel Messi and his father were given 21-month suspended jail sentences for tax fraud relating to the player’s image rights. Fellow Argentinean Javier Mascherano agreed a one-year suspended sentence with authorities for tax fraud earlier this year.
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