Judge accepts Neymar 'tax fraud' case
Barcelona are to be investigated for a "tax fraud" of 9.1 million euros related to the transfer of Neymar from Santos last summer.
Reports surfaced in the local media on Wednesday that the Spanish tax authorities had launched a case against the Catalan club, while Barca themselves have denied defrauding the taxman.
Judge Pablo Ruz, though, has since accepted the prosecutor's request, with a court spokesman saying in the Guardian: "Judge Pablo Ruz has charged FC Barcelona with an infringement against the tax authority relating to the purchase of the Brazilian player."
Madrid-based judge Ruz is currently conducting an investigation into the complicated 86.2 million-euro deal, and has asked Barcelona, Neymar’s father and FIFA for all documentation relating to the transfer amid reported suspicions of the existence of different versions of the paperwork.
A public prosecutor presented a new petition to Spain’s High Court on Wednesday outlining the reasons for wanting to take a tax case against the Catalan club. “There is a whole series of contracts that show signs of simulation, as well as financial engineering operations,” the writ reads according to El Pais.
The prosecutor, Jose Perals, claims that Barca paid a total 37.9 million euros in a signing on fee (10 million euros in 2011 and 27.9 million euros in 2013) to join the club -- money which he maintains income tax of 9.1 million euros must be paid on.
Barca have previously maintained that this figure was paid as a "penalty clause" which was triggered when the Catalan club signed the player 12 months earlier than had been previously agreed. This money was -- according to the club’s own website -- paid to a company controlled by Neymar’s father.
Judge Ruz, reports El Pais, has accepted that the 37.9 million-euro payment "could correspond, in its true nature, to a big remuneration to the player" which would therefore be liable for Spanish income tax.
Barca have admitted that they paid out a total of 86.2 million euros when signing the Brazilian player last summer, with different amounts being paid to his former club Santos and an agency controlled by his father. Some of these payments are claimed to relate to services not directly related to the transfer, including marketing, scouting and development work in Sao Paulo.
Santos and "third-party investors" who previously held a share of Neymar’s "playing rights" are also unhappy with how the 86.2 million euros was divided up, with the Brazilian club having a request that FIFA hand over all its documentation relating to the case rejected by a court in Sao Paulo.
Catalan newspaper El Periodico printed a copy of a petition from Spain’s Fiscalia de la Audiencia Nacional which speaks of the different payments made and the issues which the authorities have with Barca’s version of events.
Sandro Rosell, who stepped down as Barcelona president in January as the controversy over the transfer intensified, new Barca chief Josep Maria Bartomeu and Neymar Sr could all be called to testify as investigations in the Spanish capital continue.
All of the individuals involved continue to maintain that the deal was all legally above board. In January, prior to Rosell's resignation, the Catalan club released a statement saying that the transfer was complex but not illegal.
“The complexity of the contract, which the prosecutor calls 'contract simulation', has never been in itself illegal and we believe that the prosecutor is mistaken to believe that it is,” that statement said.