Barcelona confirmed they have made a 13.6 million euro payment to Spain’s tax authorities, while maintaining that no tax fraud took place in the controversial signing of Neymar from Santos last summer.
The Catalan club were last week charged with avoiding the tax due on two payments totalling 37.9 million euros made to a company controlled by Neymar’s father, which was part of the complicated deal worth at least 86.2 million euros in total.
The Madrid court investigating the transfer accepted the tax authorities’ view that this could be interpreted as a 'signing bonus' to the player, which should have been declared in the club’s tax returns.
Barca maintain these sums were actually a ‘penalty clause’ due to the company, and therefore not subject to income tax in Spain.
When the tax case was first reported last week, Barca denied that the club had done anything illegal and said it would work with the court to sort out any ‘misunderstanding’, with Blaugrana president Josep Maria Bartomeu telling Spanish TV he was confident his club would be found to have done everything properly.
However, Catalan paper La Vanguardia -- which had broken the news of Sandro Rosell resigning as Barca president last month -- reported on Sunday that Barca had decided to pay the sum amid concerns that it would be liable for much bigger amounts [including penalties] should they fight the case.
And a club statement released on Monday at midday confirmed that a payment of 13.6 million euros had been made to the authorities, to cover any potential tax arrears which ‘differing interpretations’ of the contracts could bring.
FC Barcelona Official Statement concerning Neymar signing http://t.co/FpJstGIHEb— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 24, 2014
The statement began by stating firmly once more that in the club’s view the transfer was fully above-board, and that any investigation would eventually find in its favour, before admitting that a decision had been taken to pay the money now.
“Given the existence of a possible divergence in interpretation about the scope of the tax obligations due in this transfer, to settle any possible tax debt deriving from this operation, and to defend the good name and reputation of our club, FC Barcelona has proceeded this morning with the presentation of the corresponding supplementary self-assessed payment,” the statement read.
“This self-assessment payment has a total sum of 13,550,830.56 euros, and has as an objective to cover the eventual interpretations which can be made of all the contracts signed with the goal of signing the player Neymar, although we are convinced of the legality of the initial fulfillment of the tax obligations.”
The statement finished by saying that Barca’s board would again meet on Monday afternoon to further discuss the matter.
Sunday’s La Vanguardia report claimed that Barca had tasked specialist tax accountants Cuatrecasas with putting together a plan to ‘reduce the financial and legal implications’ of the fraud charge filed last week.
According to El Pais. the fine handed out in such frauds can be up to four times the sum initially not paid on time -- which could be 54 million euros in this case.