Barca president maintains silence in Neymar case
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu and his predecessor Sandro Rosell refused to testify before a judge on Monday for suspected irregularities in the transfer of Brazilian star Neymar.
The pair instead insisted on the version of events they had given for a previous hearing, according to judicial sources.
Bartomeu and Rosell were called to give evidence at Spain’s national court in Madrid over a complaint for fraud and corruption brought by Brazilian investment fund DIS, which held 40 percent of Neymar’s sporting rights when he played at Santos before joining Barca in 2013.
“We are calm and confident that justice will be done,” said Barcelona spokesman Josep Vives.
“We have done things in the correct manner.”
Neymar and his parents have been called to give evidence on Tuesday.
“Before saying nonsense – that we hid this, or hid that – they should prove it,” Neymar told Brazilian TV station Globo on Sunday.
“My father is doing everything to ensure that I can just focus on playing football. He handles the books. But in the moment when you see someone you love suffering, it starts to hurt.”
The deal was originally valued at 57.1 million euros ($62.1 million) by Barca, 40 million of which was paid to the N&N company owned by the player’s father with Santos receiving just 17.1 million.
However, Spanish judicial authorities have estimated the number of simultaneous deals in the transfer amounted to at least 83.3 million.
DIS has claimed it was cheated of its real share of the benefits of the 23-year-old’s move firstly because part of the transfer fee was concealed by Barcelona and Santos.
Moreover, they also believe a pre-contract agreement between Neymar and Barca impeded other clubs from making offers for the player affecting the value of the transfer fee.
DIS received just 6.8 million from the deal – 40 percent of the 17.1 million paid to Santos.
Bartomeu and Rosell ratified what they had declared to the court in February 2015 and July 2014 respectively in a separate case in which they and Barcelona as a club face charges of tax fraud.
In that case Bartomeu laid the responsiblity at Rosell’s door, saying the latter “led the negotiations with the player’s father”.
For his part, Rosell – who resigned amidst the scandal over how much Neymar cost the club in January 2014 – insisted the “contracts were done perfectly”.
The judge has also called representatives and the presidents of Santos when the deal took place Odilio Rodriguez and Luis Alvaro de Oliveira, who have requested to make their declarations in Brazil.
Brazilian authorities have also taken action freezing $47 million in assets belonging to Neymar over tax evasion allegations between 2011 and 2013.
In another case on Thursday a Brazilian court rejected the player’s appeal against tax fraud when he was still a Santos player, imposing a fine of $112,000.
And on Sunday, Brazilian magazine Veja reported the Brazilian tax authorities had reported the player and his father for tax evasion and falsifying documents in the tax declarations of his salary at Santos and his signing for Barcelona.
“There is nothing against us. The trial is an investigation to know what happened in Neymar’s transfer,” Neymar’s father told Globo.
“If we committed any tax error then tell us, but to accuse us of tax evasion or falsifying documents goes beyond the limits.”
The controversy surrounding the deal hasn’t affected Neymar’s performances on the field as he helped Barca to a treble of Champions League, La Liga and Copa del Rey last season.
Brazil’s golden boy is expected to captain his country on home soil at the Rio Olympics later this year, and his rising status was confirmed as he made the three finalists for the Ballon d’Or to crown the world’s best player for the first time in January.