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Barcelona Soccer Club Named as Suspect in Neymar Tax Case

Feb. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Barcelona, the four-time European soccer champion, was named as an official suspect by a judge investigating possible irregularities in last year’s transfer of Brazilian forward Neymar.

Judge Pablo Ruz ordered Barcelona and Neymar to hand over a series of contracts and documents, including the 22-year-old’s 2011 tax filings, according to a ruling released by Spain’s National Court.

Earlier this week, prosecutor Jose Perals asked the judge to investigate whether Barcelona deceived the Spanish treasury when it hired Neymar.

Barcelona paid Neymar 10 million euros ($13.7 million) in 2011 and 27.9 million euros in 2013 as an incentive to join from Brazil’s Santos, according to Perals. The team should have withheld 24 percent of the payments -- 9.1 million euros -- as a tax on non-residents, Perals said in a court document, adding that Barcelona performed “financial engineering” by drawing up nine contracts related to the transfer.

Perals didn’t ask for Neymar to be investigated, and the Brazilian hasn’t been named a suspect by the judge.

Barcelona said in an e-mailed statement yesterday that it had followed the law at all times and would appear in court in the next few days to defend its interests.

Sandro Rosell quit as Barcelona president on Jan. 23, a day after Ruz agreed to open a formal investigation into a fan’s complaint about his part in Neymar’s transfer. Rosell denied wrongdoing, saying he was resigning to avoid tarnishing the club.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Duff in Madrid at aduff4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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