According to ‘Cadena Ser’, Spanish prosecutors have asked High Court judge José de la Mata to have Neymar charged on two counts: fraud and corruption, both related with his move to Barcelona during the summer of 2013.
Prosecutors have also asked for charges to be brought against the following parties: Barça president, Josep Maria Bartomeu; former president, Sandro Rosell; Neymar’s father; former Santos directors Luis Álvaro de Oliveira and Odílio Rodrigues; and the two football clubs, Santos and FC Barcelona.
This news will be greeted with raised champaign glasses at Old Trafford where Ed Woodward has made no secret that Manchester United would like to make Neymar the global face of the Premier League giants.
The investigation was opened after a complaint of “fraud” and “corruption” filed at the court in June 2015 by the Brazilian investment fund DIS, which held 40% of Neymar’s sports rights when he played at Santos.
DIS, which had also filed a complaint in Brazil, has claimed it was cheated of its real share of the benefits of 23-year-old Neymar’s transfer in 2013 because part of the transfer fee was concealed by Barcelona and Santos.
The deal was originally announced as being valued at €57.1 million euros by Barcelona, €40 million of which was positioned as a signing bonus to Neymar. DIS received €6.8 million out of the total €17.1 million that Barcelona paid to Santos, but claims it may also be due a share of the overall transfer payments. Spanish judicial authorities have estimated the whole deal to be worth at least €83.3 million, with some estimates putting it over €90m, which would make it the most expensive transfer in history.
Barcelona’s name and reputation has been dragged through the mud with this whole deal and in a separate lawsuit, a judge in May 2015 ordered Bartomeu, Rosell and the club itself to stand trial over alleged tax fraud linked to the signing. The scandal led Rosell to resign in January 2014.
It is alleged the overall fee was split between a number of different contracts between Barcelona, Santos and Neymar himself. In doing so, Barcelona stand accused of defrauding the Spanish taxman of €12.7 million.
Prosecutors are seeking a prison sentence of two years and three months for Bartomeu and seven years for Rosell, as well as a €22.2 million fine for the club. No date for a trial has been set so far. A Brazilian court has also taken action freezing millions in assets belonging to Neymar over tax evasion allegations between 2011 and 2013.
Neymar is currently in negotiations with Barcelona over a new deal, and it remains to be seen how the latest news will impact those. But his father, who is also his agent, suggested late last year that the forward could leave Barcelona over what he called tax ‘persecution’
“We are talking about a contract renewal but we’re waiting to resolve some things that concern us. We can’t have this uncertainty with the tax of not knowing if what we’re doing is right. We need to know if Spain accepts our situation. It’s hard for us because we’re receiving many attacks, from Spain and Brazil on matters of taxation. Neymar is a media player and we work his image from Brazil.
“We have to do the right things and I’d like to know if Spain will let us work or we have to leave. I don’t want to use the word ‘persecution’ but if we don’t have a comfortable situation to work we can’t stay in Spain.
“If we are creating big problems for Spain, we can’t be here. We’ve never had such big tax problems.”
I am sure Ed Woodward and Manchester United will be more than willing to help Neymar escape the tax ‘persecution’ from the Spanish authorities.