Neymar hit by new legal case in Brazil

SAO PAULO • Barcelona and Brazil's star striker Neymar suffered a fresh legal blow on Tuesday when Brazilian prosecutors filed a tax fraud and forgery case against him.

The 23-year-old and his family have denied any wrongdoing over alleged irregularities in his signing for the Spanish football giants. But, hours after he gave testimony in Spain in one case, a new front opened up as federal prosecutors in Brazil launched proceedings against him and his father.

Investigators in both countries suspect his family and the club hid the real value of the deal under which Barcelona signed him from Santos. Barcelona valued the transfer at about €57 million (S$89 million), but Spanish authorities think it added up to more than €83 million.

Brazil's federal prosecution service accused the player and his father of forging contracts to pay less tax. It made the same accusations against Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu and his predecessor Sandro Rosell.

A federal court must now decide whether to admit the charges and put them on trial. Last September, Brazilian authorities froze US$47 million (S$67.3 million) worth of the player's assets pending investigations.

Wearing jeans and sunglasses, Neymar seemed relaxed as he arrived at Spain's National Court in Madrid with his father Neymar da Silva Santos, who was also called to testify.

The player signed an autograph in front of a group of photographers before entering the building. He made no comment when he left.

Bartomeu and Rosell refused to testify when called this week, insisting on the account they had given for a previous hearing.

A representative of Santos told the judge the Brazilian club had felt cheated by Neymar and his father.

However, Neymar's case has not affected his performances on the field. "Neymar is perfect. From zero to one million, it affects him at 0.000001 per cent," said Barcelona coach Luis Enrique.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 04, 2016, with the headline 'Neymar hit by new legal case in Brazil'. Print Edition | Subscribe