Barcelona have denied defrauding the Spanish taxman in the complicated 86.2 million euro transfer of Neymar to the club last summer, as the player and his family have been drawn into a public row with his former club Santos in Brazil.
It emerged on Wednesday that a prosecutor with Spain’s tax authorities was launching a case claiming a ‘fraud’ of 9.1 million euros in the deal, which he was maintaining showed evidence of ‘financial engineering’.
The issue appears to be two payments totalling 37.9 million euros made in 2011 and 2013 to a Brazilian company controlled by Neymar’s father, which the prosecutor views as income taxable in Spain.
Barca quickly released a statement maintaining all aspects of the transfer had been above-board and saying the club was happy to work with the authorities to demonstrate this.
“In light of reports appearing in today’s press concerning the transfer process carried out to bring Neymar da Silva Santos Junior to the Club, FC Barcelona would like to state,” the statement began. “1 - The Club’s dealings with respect to this operation, and in light of all information available, was at all times in line with the relevant legal legislation.
"2 - Represented by its lawyers, the Club will appear at the Jutjat Central d’Instruccio number 5 within the next few days in order to defend its interests and rights.
"3 - We express our total willingness to collaborate with the Justice authorities in this matter, as we have done since the first moment the issue arose and in any other area in which our presence may be required.”
Madrid-based judge Pablo Ruz is currently conducting an investigation into the complicated deal, in which Barca have admitted they paid out a total of 86.2 million euros, with different amounts being paid to his former club Santos and the agency controlled by his father. Some of these payments are claimed to be payments relating to various services including marketing, scouting and development work in Sao Paulo.
The division of the total monies paid continues to be a hugely controversial issue in Brazil, where Santos and the ‘third-party investors’ who previously held a share of the starlet’s ‘economic rights’ feel they are owed a much bigger share.
A very lengthy statement was published on the player’s personal website on Thursday in which Neymar Senior said Santos agreed in 2011 that he could negotiate for his son's future.
“What they are doing to us shows a lack of ethics,” the statement from Neymar Sr says. “You sign a document which leaves your son free in 2014 aged 22. What should I do? I have to prepare for when that happens, working hard to negotiate for the future.”
Former Santos president Luis Alvaro Oliveira Ribeiro disputes this version of events, telling SportTV news that this agreement did not give Neymar Senior the right to make so much money from the deal.
“The letter insists that the contract must be fulfilled until the final day [June 2014],” Ribeiro said in comments reported in AS. “It did not justify that Barcelona hand him over 10 million euros. With this type of person it is useless to argue in the media. He will have an answer, and he will have to prove it in court in front of a judge.”
Delcir Sonda, owner of third-party investor DIS, was also scathing in his assessment of Neymar Senior’s behaviour: “I am indignant because of all the s--- which has fallen on my company,” Sonda said. “Neymar’s father is a very low-level person. He was in poverty and does not know how to value the people who have helped his son.”
Neymar himself has also entered the debate via Instagram, saying his father deserved the money he had received for the work done in shepherding his career.
“I am completely disappointed with the ex-presidente LAOR [Luis Alvaro Oliveira Ribeiro] and with the current, Odilio [Rodrigues]...,” Neymar said. “But mostly with LAOR, who I have always treated with affection and admiration.
"I am sick of this s---, I do not understand why there are so many lies… If anyone thought that my father was a donkey, they were fooling themselves. I am a fan of my father for having brought me where I am today and if he has earned millions with that, well what is the problem? It worked, nothing fell out of the sky.”
Neymar Sr’s statement also covered the latest Spanish tax case, saying that any taxes due would be paid to the Brazilian authorities: "All the money which my companies invoice for comes to Brazil, including when dealings are with businesses based abroad. So obviously the taxes are collected here.”