Barcelona have denied reports the club has already agreed a deal with the Spanish tax authorities to avoid any fraud charges being pressed due to the controversial transfer of Neymar to the Catalan club last summer.
Barca have already made an extra 13.6 million euros payment to the taxman, although current club president Josep Maria Bartomeu maintained at the time that no fraud took place, and said he expected the money to be returned eventually.
The 13.6 million euros is the tax which would be due on payments totalling 37.9 million euros made to a company controlled by Neymar’s father as part of the complicated deal which was worth at least 86.2 million euros in total.
El Pais have claimed court sources say Barca would admit wrongdoing in exchange for possible further penalties against the club or individuals being set aside.
The club reacted with an official statement denying any such agreement had been sealed. It read: “In response to various stories published over the last few hours, FC Barcelona would like to categorically deny that they have communicated to the Public Prosecutor a commitment to reach an agreement confirming the existence of any misdemeanour in relation to the tax authorities, in order to close the case brought before the National Courts relating to the signing of Neymar.
“On Wednesday March 5, the legal representatives appointed by the Club appeared before the Jutjat Central d'Instruccio n. 5 in order to appear under procedural representation of solicitor, counsel and designated representative in line with the request received from the court.
“During this hearing, a courtesy visit was paid to the Court Prosecutor, solely in order to inform his office of the current state of the legal process described above and to establish legal positions in the conviction that legal debate currently occurring will be resolved by the administrative arm of the tax authorities. At no point did the Club’s legal representative have any mandate to accelerate the closing of the case nor of any admission of any tax misdemeanour leading to criminal action in the terms alleged in the above mentioned reports.”
The tax issue arose as the Spanish authorities view the payments to Neymar's father's company [N&N] as a salary paid to the player, which should have been declared in the Catalan club’s income tax returns.
Barca maintain these sums were actually a business-to-business payment made to the Brazil-based company, and therefore taxes would be due in the South American company. Bartomeu claimed this week that the tax authorities in the two countries would agree among themselves on where the payment should ultimately be made.
Any agreement over the tax issue would not immediately stop the criminal investigation currently ongoing under Judge Pablo Ruz of Spain's high-ranking Audencia Nacional court, according to the El Pais story. Ruz could still bring different criminal charges related to “simulated documentation” in the deal, which involved former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell, Neymar Senior and the player's former club Santos.