Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has told Estudio Estadio he is confident the club will be found not to have committed a ‘tax fraud’ of 9.1 million euros during Neymar’s controversial transfer to the club last summer.
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Barca have been officially charged with avoided paying the tax due on two payments totalling 37.9 million euros made to a company controlled by Neymar’s father, which the Spanish tax authorities see as ‘income’ which should have been declared in the Catalan club’s tax returns.
The club -- and apparently Neymar Sr -- maintain these sums were not a signing bonus but a ‘penalty clause’ due to the company, and therefore no taxes on the sum are due in Spain.
Bartomeu believes the Primera Division leaders will be found to have done everything legally, and insists the club are a model example in football regarding tax matters.
“Barca are very comfortable about the contract we made with Neymar and with Santos, that is completely legal,” Bartomeu said. “We have been advised by external lawyers and tax experts. The club, the family of Neymar and Santos did everything in the best way possible.
“It is all completely legal. We are relaxed. We are one of the clubs who pay all our taxes on time -- in this sense Barcelona is an example.”
The writ in the case reportedly mentions ‘financial engineering’ and ‘simulated contracts’, but Bartomeu said he was sure all this could be explained to the relevant authorities.
“When we have to we will explain the signing of Neymar, and demonstrate that they are completely legal,” he continued. “And that there is nothing behind it. We will go and defend our interests so that all Barca socios know we did nothing wrong bringing Neymar to our team.”
Bartomeu said that despite all the controversy which has arisen -- and his predecessor as president Sandro Rosell resigning last month -- it had been worthwhile to get a player who would help the club remain at the top of the world game.
“We would do everything the same way again,” he said. “Neymar is one of the best players in the world, young with great potential.
"We are the dominant force in football and having him in our team we have the chance to remain the leaders in football. Together with the best in the world Leo Messi, he will help us achieve many things.”
As the controversy grew last month Barca decided to make public what they say are all the details of the 86.2 million euro deal, including the different amounts paid to Santos and the agency controlled by Neymar Sr apparently for services including marketing, scouting and development work in Sao Paulo.
Bartomeu regretted that this had been necessary, while saying that he hoped club members like Jordi Cases -- the ‘socio’ whose initial enquiry opened the whole situation -- would think twice before putting their club into such a situation again.
“This socio asked for explanations, and thanks to the Neymar family we were able to explain exactly the contracts, after the confidentiality clause was lifted,” he added.
“It felt bad doing it, I believe this was the first time in the world of football that a club explained all the details of a transfer like this. It was clear to socios that a great signing had been made in the most clear and legal way.
"The club does not need to give guarantees in writing [that there will be no repercussions against Cases], our word is enough. I hope that the resignation of Rosell serves for people to leave off this sort of actions.”