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Prosecutors want two-year jail term for Neymar in Barcelona transfer fraud case

Rohith Nair
FEATURED COLUMNIST
News
4.00K   //    05 May 2017, 14:34 IST
Neymar jail term Barcelona Santos transfer tax fraud case
Neymar’s appeals in court were rejected and he must now stand trial

What’s the story?

Barcelona star Neymar Jr. has been ordered to stand trial in the case of fraud relating to his transfer from Santos to Barcelona in 2013. A Spanish judge ordered that the 25-year-old Brazilian forward will stand trial along with his parents, Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu, and the club’s former president Sandro Rosell.

The prosecutors are looking for at least a two-year jail term and a fine of £7.7m (which amounts to approximately $10m). The date for the trial has not yet been set by the court. 

In case you didn’t know...

Neymar’s transfer to Barcelona has been under scrutiny for quite some time now. When Neymar was unveiled at the Camp Nou in the summer of 2013, Barcelona vice-president (at the time) claimed the transfer fee was €57.1m. Not all of it would go to Neymar’s former club, Santos.

Instead, it was supposed to be split between the Brazilian club, DIS (a Brazilian investment group), Teisa (another Brazilian investment fund) and a sporting consultancy. However, questions were asked when all parties claimed they did not get a fair share of the transfer fee.

Club member (socio) Jordi Cases tried to investigate the matter and when his request for information was rejected by the club, he filed a legal complaint alleging misappropriation of funds.

Also read: Neymar scores early goal in tax fraud case in Brazil

The heart of the matter

The saga had put pressure on then-president Sandro Rosell to quit and he soon handed in his resignation. Investigations soon revealed that the total cost of Neymar’s transfer fee was close to €86.2m after two companies – N&N Consultoria Esportiva and Empresarial Limited – received €40m. Both were reportedly owned by Neymar’s parents.

Sandro Rosell Josep Maria Bartomeu
Sandro Rosell (L) stepped down and Josep Maria Bartomeu (R) took over as Barcelona president

The prosecutors also claimed that as a result of this new transfer fees, they had avoided paying taxes amounting to €9.1m. It was a claim Bartomeu refused to acknowledge. 

The court also looked into the evidence and came to the conclusion that “Barcelona, Neymar and his father clearly did not follow the legal obligations imposed by FIFA’s transfer statutes.”

What’s next?

The judge has informed all parties that hey had 10 days to present a formal defence to the lawsuit. However, there is evidence to prove that both Santos and Barcelona may have colluded to ensure Neymar moved to the Camp Nou even though Real Madrid had reportedly submitted a higher bid for the Brazilian star.

Numerous appeals from Neymar and his family, Barcelona and Santos were rejected in February. Bartomeu's appeal was also rejected last week while bail was set at €3.4m.

Even if Neymar is convicted, he may not go to jail as a prison sentence of two years or less is suspended for first-time offenders in Spain.

Author’s take

This has been a saga that has raged on for years and although the case was first dismissed, it looks like there is no escaping it this time for Neymar and all parties involved. Justice must be served and the Spanish public cannot be taken for a ride by people who take advantage of the system to avoid paying millions in taxes. 

No other transfer deal has been under so much scrutiny for so long and there cannot be smoke without fire. Young players with world class quality are usually exploited by those in power – especially in South America – and Neymar can only hope it is resolved soon so he can get back to focusing on his football. 

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Rohith Nair
FEATURED COLUMNIST
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