Barcelona star and Ballon d’Or nominee ordered to appear in court in fraud case

Saurav Kapoor / 13 January 2016

Barcelona forward Neymar da Silva Santos Junior has been ordered to appear before a judge to testify in an investigation into alleged irregularities involving his transfer to Barcelona, Spain’s national court said Wednesday.

Neymar’s parents, former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell and current president Josep Bartomeu also will have to appear before a judge, according to court documents.

The Brazil striker is set to testify on Feb. 2, while Rosell and Bartomeu are expected to be in court on Feb. 1.

The national court last year rejected the request by Neymar and other defendants to throw out a probe into the irregularities. The court is looking into a complaint made by a Brazilian investment group, DIS, which claims it should have received a higher portion of the fee than what they actually did. DIS had a 40 percent stake in Neymar’s sporting rights when he was a Santos player and allege they did not receive their fair share of the deal because the true amount of the deal was concealed. Barcelona and Neymar also allegedly withheld the real amount of the player’s transfer fee from Brazilian club Santos in 2013, in part to avoid paying the full amount of taxes.

Santos’ former presidents, Luis Alvaro de Oliveira and Odilio Rodriguez Filho, also have been asked to appear in court, as well as club representatives of both Barcelona and Santos.

The complaint, made in June by investment group DIS, names Neymar, his father and Barcelona as defendants, along with Rosell and Bartomeu.

The court analyzed the complaint and said there were indications of illegal acts by some of the involved parties in an attempt to disguise the total amount that was paid to the Brazilian club.

Santos officially received a payment of 17.1 million euros ($18.5 million) for Neymar’s transfer, but investigations in Spain later showed that Barcelona spent nearly 83.3 million euros ($90 million) to acquire the Brazilian.

A separate court in Madrid is hearing a similar lawsuit against Rosell because of Neymar’s transfer fee. Rosell resigned from Barcelona because of the allegations.

FIFA recently said it was also analysing a complaint related to the transfer. Santos claimed that Neymar and his father broke the terms of the player’s contract by starting negotiations with Barcelona without the Brazilian club’s consent.

The 23-year-old Neymar has also encountered problems with Brazil’s tax office, which last year froze assets related to the player valued at about 189 million Brazilian reals ($47 million) because of allegations of tax evasion.

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