Neymar could face legal action over move

BARCELONA • Spanish prosecutors have reportedly requested that Neymar be charged on two counts of fraud and corruption relating to his move to Barcelona during the summer of 2013.

Quoting radio station Cadena Ser, Spanish newspaper Marca reported that prosecutors have also asked for charges to be brought against Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu, former president Sandro Rosell, Neymar's father, who is also his son's agent, two directors of the striker's former club Santos and the two football clubs as well.

The prosecutors acted on legal proceedings brought by the Brazilian investment fund DIS, which has accused the defendants of fraud, claiming it should have received 40 per cent of the payment that Barcelona paid Santos for the player.

DIS, which held 40 per cent of Neymar's sports rights when he was in Brazil, claims it only received that percentage for €17.1 million (S$26.9 million) that Santos were allegedly paid for the Brazilian when, according to High Court investigations, the deal cost €83.3 million.

The defendants also stand accused of corruption over allegations that Neymar, despite being under contract at DIS - and without informing the fund - signed a deal with Barcelona worth €40 million to join the team as soon as he was a free agent.

At the same time, the player is at the centre of an investigation into alleged tax fraud over the move in which Barcelona have previously made a supplementary payment of almost €13 million to the Spanish authorities in order to cover what they described as a difference in "interpretation".

The case is based on the investigating judge's allegation that Barcelona's claim to have paid Santos €17.1 million and €40 million to the company run by Neymar's father was false.

Instead, Barcelona were accused of having paid over €80 million for the 23-year-old Brazil striker and making a series of different payments that the investigator considered to actually be part of his salary.

Prosecutors alleged that the Spanish exchequer had been defrauded of €12.7 million in taxes.

Neymar has previously declared himself "sick and tired" of accusations his family improperly profited from his transfer and said there was "nothing illegal" in his contract with Barcelona.

Barcelona have yet to offer any public statement but have repeatedly declared their innocence.

In another action, a Brazilian court has frozen €42 million in assets belonging to Neymar over tax evasion allegations.

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 10, 2016, with the headline 'Neymar could face legal action over move'. Print Edition | Subscribe