Barcelona Accused of Tax Evasion in $107 Million Neymar Deal

A Spanish prosecutor said four-time European soccer champion Barcelona and its former president should stand trial for evading about 9 million euros ($10.2 million) in taxes in the signing of Brazilian playmaker Neymar.

Barcelona and former executive Sandro Rosell committed two crimes against the Spanish treasury, with Rosell responsible for a further company crime, the prosecutor, Jose Perals, said in a written filing at the National Court.

Current team president Josep Maria Bartomeu should also be investigated after Barcelona failed to withhold 2.8 million euros in taxes last year on income paid to N&N Consultoria Esportiva e Empresarial Ltda, a company owned by Neymar’s parents, Perals said.

In February 2014, after the National Court opened an investigation, Barcelona paid 13.6 million euros to tax authorities to cover a possible shortfall in its signing of Neymar. The club denied any wrongdoing in a statement at the time, saying it had “scrupulously” fulfilled its tax obligations.

According to Perals, Barcelona and Rosell failed to withhold income tax at a rate of 24.75 percent attributable to a non-resident on payments to Neymar and N&N Consultoria in 2011 and 2013 while he was in Brazil. Neymar joined Barcelona from Santos in May 2013.

Real Madrid was also trying to sign Neymar, its president Florentino Perez said in May 2013, adding he proved too expensive. Including tax, the cost of signing Neymar to Barcelona should have totalled 94.9 million euros, or about $107 million, according to Perals.

Rosell quit as Barcelona president in January 2014. He denied wrongdoing in comments made at the time, saying he was resigning to avoid tarnishing the club’s reputation.

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