Prosecutors want Neymar on trial over Barcelona transfer

MADRID (AP) — Spanish prosecutors want Neymar to stand trial for fraud because of alleged irregularities involving his transfer to Barcelona three years ago.

Neymar and his father, who’s also his agent, committed fraud by trying to hide the real amount of his transfer in order to pay a lower commission to the investment group which owned part of his rights at the time, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

A judge will analyze the prosecutors’ demand and decide whether to install a trial. Neymar and his father could face a prison sentence of up to two years.

They maintained their innocence when they appeared before a judge in Madrid in February.

Prosecutors also cited Barcelona and its former president Sandro Rosell, as well as the former president of Brazilian club Santos. They have denied any wrongdoing.

The accusations came a few days after Lionel Messi went on trial for tax fraud in Barcelona, where he and his father were accused of defrauding Spain’s tax authority of 4.1 million euros ($4.6 million) from 2007-09. A ruling is expected in the coming weeks. Also this year, Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano was handed a suspended one-year prison sentence for not paying nearly 1.5 million euros ($1.7 million) in taxes for 2011-12.

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Brazilian investment group DIS claims it was financially damaged because Barcelona and Neymar allegedly withheld the real amount of the player’s transfer fee from Santos in 2013, receiving a smaller compensation than it was entitled to.

Santos officially received 17.1 million euros for Neymar’s transfer to Barcelona, but prosecutors said the total amount paid by the Spanish club was 25.1 million euros, meaning DIS would be entitled to an additional 3.2 million euros.

Prosecutors said the difference comes from payments made by Barcelona for the future acquisitions of other players, as well as partnerships for friendly matches between the clubs.

According to court documents, DIS paid 5 million reals (1.25 million euros, $1.3 million) for 40 percent of Neymar’s rights in 2009.

Barcelona said the Neymar transfer cost the club a total of 57.1 million euros, with 17 million euros going to the club and 40 million euros going to a company owned by Neymar’s father. Investigations in Spain have claimed that Barcelona spent more than 80 million euros to acquire the Brazilian.

Court documents said Neymar’s contract with Santos, which was valid until July 2014, had a buy-out clause of 65 million euros, but the club authorized Neymar’s father to begin negotiating with other clubs before the contract ended.

They reached a deal with Barcelona, and the club paid 10 million euros in advance to Neymar’s father in 2011 to guarantee the player’s signing.

Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.Com/tazzoni. His work can be found at http://bigstory.Ap.Org/content/tales-azzoni.

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