Neymar and his parents are to stand trial over alleged fraud and corruption. In addition the Barcelona president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, and his predecessor Sandro Rosell will go on trial for alleged fraud and corruption over Neymar’s transfer from Santos in 2013.
The two clubs were also ordered to stand trial. All have denied wrongdoing.
Spanish prosecutors have recommended Neymar be handed a two-year jail sentence and fined €10m. Sentences of two years or less are usually suspended for first-time offenders in Spain. However, Neymar could be banned from playing during a judicial sentence.
His arrival from Santos has been a huge success for the Spanish champions on the pitch but a judicial nightmare off it. The 25-year-old striker is being investigated in Brazil and Spain over his move to La Liga.
The case began with a complaint from the Brazilian investment company DIS, which owned 40% of Neymar’s sporting rights at the time of his transfer.
DIS received €6.8m – 40% of the €17m fee paid to Santos – with the company claiming it was denied its real share because part of the transfer fee was concealed by Barcelona, Santos and the Neymar family.
Spain’s national court suspects Santos were paid €25m, which would mean DIS was cheated out of €3.5m. Barcelona originally published the transfer figure as €57.1m, with €40m of that given to the player’s family and the rest to Santos.
DIS has called for five-year sentences for Neymar and his parents, who acted as the player’s representatives, eight years for Rosell and Bartomeu plus a €195m fine for Barça.
In July 2016 a judge ruled that irregularities in the transfer were detected but said it was an issue for a civil court, not a criminal court, to settle.
However, prosecutors successfully argued the player and his father were aware of potentially fraudulent dealings between Barcelona and Santos to the detriment of DIS to fully overturn that decision.
The decision to order Neymar to stand trial is another blow to the image of the Spanish giants and the player himself.
Barcelona hoped to bring an end to the murky affair when the club agreed to pay a €5.5m fine in a deal with prosecutors in June to settle a separate case and ensure the club avoided trial on tax-evasion charges over the transfer.
Neymar is far from the only Barça star to find himself embroiled in problems with the Spanish authorities.
Lionel Messi and his father were given 21-month suspended jail sentences in July 2016 for tax fraud relating to the player’s image rights.
The defender Javier Mascherano agreed a one-year suspended sentence with authorities for tax fraud this year.
Source: The Guardian