FC Barcelona and its President are indicted for alleged fiscal fraud regarding Neymar’s signing
Spain’s National Court, a Madrid-based high court in charge of investigating and ruling on transnational felonies, announced on Tuesday the indictment of FC Barcelona – as a legal person – and its President, Josep Maria Bartomeu, for alleged fiscal fraud regarding Neymar Jr’s transfer and signing for the Catalan club. The judge considers there to be enough evidence to suggest that the Catalan club and Bartomeu could have committed fiscal felony in the tax declarations for the signing of the Brazilian star. Bartomeu will have to testify with his lawyers before the Madrid-based judge on 13 February. FC Barcelona issued a press statement in which it expresses its “surprise, indignation and disagreement”. Furthermore the Catalan club announced that it shall act determinedly to defend its interests and honour.
Barcelona (ACN).- Spain’s National Court (Audiencia Nacional), a Madrid-based high court in charge of investigating and ruling on transnational felonies, announced on Tuesday the indictment of FC Barcelona – as a legal person – and its President, Josep Maria Bartomeu, for alleged fiscal fraud regarding Neymar da Silva Santos Jr’s transfer and signing for the Catalan club. The judge considers there to be enough evidence to suggest that the Catalan club and Bartomeu could have committed fiscal felony in the tax declarations for the signing of the Brazilian star, and wants to hear their version before deciding on the next step to take. Bartomeu will have to testify with his lawyers in front of the Madrid-based judge on 13 February, as part of the ongoing investigation that should clarify the situation and the need for launching a trial or not. FC Barcelona issued a press statement in which it expresses its “surprise, indignation and disagreement” about the indictment. Furthermore the Catalan club announced that it shall act determinedly to defend its interests and honour. The judge’s decision comes after he received the final report from the Spanish Public Prosecutor’s Office regarding this case. The previous FC Barcelona President, Sandro Rosell, already testified months ago concerning this case and decided to resign as the Catalan club’s top representative in order not to damage the institution.
The Prosecutor requests the indictment of the club and its former President Sandro Rosell for 3 felonies (2 fiscal and 1 corporate) committed between 2011 and 2013 and centring around Neymar’s signing. Furthermore, it was also requesting the indictment of current President, Josep Maria Bartomeu, for a fiscal felony regarding a tax declaration from 2014, and also to do with Neymar’s signing. The judge has decided to group all the charges into a single case, since they are all linked to the transfer of the Brazilian footballer.
Furthermore, the judge will not close the investigation yet and has asked FC Barcelona for further documents regarding the tax declarations for Neymar’s signing. In addition, the judge asked the Spanish Tax Agency for a complementary report about the regular Income Tax (IRPF) and the Income Tax for non-fiscal residents paid by Neymar and the investigated associations in 2014. If there is deemed to be fraud and it exceeded €120,000, the felony would be a penal one, and therefore the judge has decided to indict both the club and its President. According to the Prosecutor’s report, the fraud could be up to €2,845,700 for 2014, which would be the responsibility of the club and its President. The former President Sandro Rosell is already indicted for alleged fiscal fraud, which could be up to €9 million, since the prosecutor believes that Neymar’s total signing cost €94 million and not the smaller amount declared.
FC Barcelona is outraged by the decision and will defend its interests
The Catalan club issued a press release in which it “wished to express to its members its surprise, indignation and total disagreement with the public prosecutor’s petition for the club and its former president Sandro Rosell to face trial for presumed misdemeanours in the transfer of the player Neymar da Silva Santos Jr”.
Below is the rest of FC Barcelona’s official statement:
“In recent months, FC Barcelona has declared its innocence, and has provided all of the documentation requested on numerous occasions and which has been supported by various judicial testimonies. The Club has also been advised at all times by specialists in tax law.
With respect to the specific request by the Public Prosecutors Office to charge President Josep Maria Bartomeu for a supposed tax offence in 2014, FC Barcelona also wishes to declare its utter disagreement.
In this case, the charge is related to a payment of five million euros, the final part of the 40 million that the Club was obliged to pay to the N&N company for the transfer of the player, and which it was stipulated would be paid on 31 January 2014, eight days after the change of president.
The decision to defer this payment to January 2014 and the discussion about the type of tax retentions that should be applied to the same, do not seem to be sufficient grounds to press charges. Moreover, the complementary statement presented as a precautionary and preventative measure in February 2014 already covered any interpretations that could be made with regard to the retention to be applied to this payment.
It is FC Barcelona’s wish for the judge hearing this case to reject the requests being made by the Prosecutors Office, as all of the actions involved in the player’s transfer process were conducted with no intent whatsoever to breach the law in any way.
FC Barcelona declares that, in all serenity and guided by its own prudence, that it shall act determinedly and in use of all legal resources to continue defending its own interests and those of its members. Likewise, FC Barcelona shall not allow any action to tarnish the Club’s image or to damage or dishonour what it considers to be a historic and strategic signing”.