Barcelona's Sandro Rosell and Josep Bartomeu could face jail over Neymar transfer
Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu and his predecessor Sandro Rosell could face jail sentence over the Neymar issue, but the club will escape punishment after changes to Spain’s Criminal Code came into effect in June. The main changes relate to exempting companies from criminal liability when the alleged crimes are committed by their administrators, directors, managers and/or employees, according to Football Espana.
As such, the Spanish club will be cleared of any changes and instead Rosell and Bartomeu, the president and vice-president respectively at the time of Neymar’s transfer from Santos, alone will come under the scanner. Prosecutors are seeking a prison sentence of two years and three months for Bartomeu and seven years for Rosell.
The club and the management have been accused of hiding the actual transfer fees of Neymar’s move from Santos. Barcelona have maintained that the transfer fee was €57 million, but the actual value is touted to be bigger at around €83 million.
A Spanish national court judge had accepted a lawsuit in January 2014 from Barcelona club member Jordi Cases, who alleged that the amount paid for Neymar was more than the reported fee. Following the accusation, Rosell resigned from his post as club president, handing over the reigns to the vice-president at the time, Bartomeu.
Rosell though maintained that he had "acted correctly" and said that all allegations were"unfair and reckless". Trouble didn’t stop there for Barcelona however as, in March 2015, a Spanish judge accused the club and its management of covering up the actual cost of Neymar’s transfer.
“These seven contracts were designed with different ends, but taken together they were used to cover up or hide the higher cost of the player's transfer for FCB," the court statement said, as reported by ESPN FC.
"All of them also had the goal of eluding or lowering payments to the Tax Office in a surreptitious manner," it added.
The allegations forced Bartomeu to call for early elections in the summer, one which he managed to win convincingly.
In June 2015, a Spanish judge ordered a fraud investigation against Neymar himself after accepting a legal complaint filed by Brazilian investment fund DIS, which owned 40% of the player’s rights when he was at Santos. They acknowledged that they had received €6.8 million euros as part of the deal but claimed that they were entitled to more payment, from the overall transfer deal.
No trial date has been set for the hearing as yet, but it now looks as if Barcelona will not be facing any sanction over the issue.