Neymar cleared of fraud, faces corruption trial

MADRID • Brazilian forward Neymar faces a corruption trial in Spain in connection with the value placed on his 2013 transfer from Santos to Barcelona, the Spanish National High Court said on Thursday.

The defendants in the trial are the player, his parents, the two clubs, current and former Barcelona presidents Josep Maria Bartomeu and Sandro Rosell and former Santos president Odilio Rodrigues, according to a court statement. Bartomeu, Rosell, Barcelona, Santos and Rodrigues also face trial on fraud charges.

"We are very happy as this was a favourable decision for us," Altamiro Bezerra, an adviser to NN Consultoria, the company that represents Neymar, told Reuters.

"It has eliminated the question of fraud in the contracts and we are also certain that we will be absolved of corruption."

The case stems from a complaint by DIS, a Brazilian company that owned 40 per cent of the rights to Neymar when he was at Santos. It argues it lost out on its rightful cut from the transfer because the true value of the deal was understated.

Barcelona said at the time of Neymar's move that the transfer figure was €57.1 million (S$87.98 million), of which €40 million was paid to Neymar's family.

DIS received a 40 per cent share of the remaining €17.1 million that was paid to Santos. But the court determined Barcelona should have paid them €25.2 million.

"The judge has set bonds of €3,429,768 as pecuniary liability for Rosell, Bartomeu, Rodrigues, Football Club Barcelona and Santos Football Club, which must be paid by all jointly," the court said.

Prosecutors said in November that Neymar should be fined €10 million and handed a two-year jail sentence. Sentences of two years or less are usually suspended for first-time offenders in Spain. DIS wants five-year sentences for Neymar and his parents, who acted as the player's representatives, eight years for Rosell and Bartomeu, plus a €195 million fine for Barcelona.

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 06, 2017, with the headline 'Neymar cleared of fraud, faces corruption trial'. Print Edition | Subscribe