Barcelona have been charged by a Spanish court with committing tax fraud in the signing of Brazil forward Neymar last year in the latest twist to a saga that has already claimed the scalp of one club president. Neymar’s high-profile move to the Catalan capital from Santos in the close season was initially shrouded in mystery and it was unclear what exactly was paid to whom and when.
After president Sandro Rosell stepped down last month following an allegation of misappropriation of funds made by a club member, Barca admitted Neymar had cost 86.2 million euros ($118.6 million), including payments to the player and his family, and not 57.1 million as they originally said.
“Judge Pablo Ruz has charged FC Barcelona with an infringement against the tax authority relating to the purchase of the Brazilian player (Neymar),” a spokesman for the Madrid court hearing the case said on Thursday.
The judge had requested Barca’s tax records relating to the Neymar deal and had asked the tax authority to calculate the scale of the alleged fraud.
Barca denied wrongdoing after local media reported on Wednesday that Spain’s public prosecutor had asked the judge to lay charges.
“The club’s actions have, at all times, regarding that operation (to sign Neymar) and in line with the available information, been fully compliant with existing law,” Barca said in a statement.
The Spanish champions added they would be sending legal representatives to court “in the coming days” to defend their rights and interests. “At the same time (Barca) states its complete availability to collaborate with the justice authorities.”