Josep Maria Bartomeu says he is confident the 13.6 million euros in extra tax Barcelona have paid in the wake of a fraud investigation into the purchase of Neymar will eventually be returned to the club.
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Last week, Barca were charged with avoiding the tax due on payments made to N&N, a company controlled by Neymar’s father, as part of the deal that took the Brazilian to the Camp Nou last summer.
Although the club have always maintained the deal was legal, they have opted to pay the extra 13.6 million euros to Spain’s tax authorities with the apparent aim of minimising the risk of further penalties or punishments down the line.
Club president Bartomeu told a news conference he was sure the club were not guilty of any fraud and that the 13.6 million euros would be returned once the authorities understood exactly what had happened.
“FC Barcelona worked legally in the signing of Neymar,” Bartomeu said in comments reported on the club’s official website. “We have always been advised by the best lawyers. We have always complied with our fiscal commitments and our debt is zero. We do not owe any taxes. We are in the right. We are convinced that the money we paid to the tax agency, in order to avoid complicating the issue further, will be returned to the club.”
The 13.6 million euros that Barca have paid includes tax that would be owed on the money paid to N&N in the transfer, which -- according to the figures released by the club -- includes a 40 million lump sum as well as other “side deals” for scouting and marketing services to be provided to the Catalans.
The Madrid court investigating the transfer has accepted the tax authorities’ view that these payments could be seen as “income” that should have been declared in the club’s tax returns. Barca maintain these sums are actually business-to-business deals that are not subject to income tax in Spain.
The investigator looking at the case has deemed such complexity to be “simulation” of contracts, but Barca’s economic vice-president, Javier Faus, rejected that view at Monday’s news conference.
“There is no business simulation,” Faus said. “But our advisors noted that the tax agency is very aggressive when it comes to business simulation. We have been informed that the contract signed with N&N could be considered salary, and we were advised, given this possible interpretation, to make an additional statement.
“The club has paid 13.5 million euros in order to avoid risks. The tax is only on the 40 million euros, but we have also included the scouting and marketing contracts. It is a legal and transparent payment. We find ourselves with the paradox of having to pay taxes twice.”
Bartomeu also told reporters that he was surprised at the tax fraud charges being brought so quickly, while again hinting that jealously from Madrid at losing out on Neymar was somehow to blame for the whole controversy.
“Seeing these cases move so quickly has been quite surprising to us,” he said, according to El Pais. “It is not normal -- it is very strange. It seems very quick. We do not know why. If club member Jordi Cases had not brought the suit against Barca, this would not have happened. We did everything possible to bring Neymar to the club. We have him, even if that bothers someone.”
Last month, Real Madrid had threatened legal action after a suggestion on Catalan radio that their president, Florentino Perez, had been involved in the Neymar case.