Updates from Wednesday, March 12
Barcelona have released an official statement, denying claims they have reached an agreement with Spanish tax authorities to end the Neymar tax fraud case.
Barca made a €13.5 million payment in relation to the case, but said at the time that they expect to recover the full amount. Now the club has moved to dispel suggestions that the payment was part of an agreement to end the saga:
In response to various stories published over the last few hours, FC Barcelona would like to categorically deny that they have communicated to the Public Prosecutor a commitment to reach an agreement confirming the existence of any misdemeanour in relation to the tax authorities, in order to close the case brought before the National Courts relating to the signing of Neymar.
On Wednesday March 5, the legal representatives appointed by the Club appeared before the Jutjat Central d'Instruccio n. 5 in order to appear under procedural representation of solicitor, counsel and designated representative in line with the request received from the court.
During this hearing, a courtesy visit was paid to the Court Prosecutor, solely in order to inform his office of the current state of the legal process described above and to establish legal positions in the conviction that legal debate currently occurring will be resolved by the administrative arm of the tax authorities. At no point did the Club’s legal representative have any mandate to accelerate the closing of the case nor of any admission of any tax misdemeanour leading to criminal action in the terms alleged in the above mentioned reports.
Updates from Tuesday, Feb. 25
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu and vice-president Javier Faus have explained in a press conference the reason behind the club's €13.5 million payment in relation to the ongoing Neymar tax fraud case.
The pair explained that the club fully expect to recover all of the money, and only made the payment upon legal advice. Bartomeu was quoted saying by Barca's official website:
FC Barcelona worked legally in the signing of Neymar. We’ve always been advised by the best lawyers. We have always complied with our fiscal commitments and our debt is zero. We don’t owe taxes.
We are in the right. We are convinced that the money we paid to the Tax Agency, in order to avoid complicating the issue further, will be returned to the Club.
Updates from Monday, Feb. 24
Barcelona have released an official statement to confirm the payment of €13.5 million to the Spanish tax authorities. However, they still deny tax fraud charges in relation to the signing of Neymar.
The statement reads:
Following the opening of legal proceedings for alleged tax irregularities relating to the different payments made during the signing of the player Neymar da Silva Santos Jr, the Futbol Club Barcelona Board of Directors has met at the Club offices and unanimously reached the following agreements:
1.- The Board denies the existence of any tax related crime in relation to the fiscal obligations arising from the signing of the player. Throughout the process, the Club was receiving expert advice and at every moment the Club’s auditor was informed and had access to all the documentation concerning the negotiations.
2.- As we have done so far, the Club will continue to give maximum collaboration to the Law Courts in order to clarify the facts of the case.
3.- The Club will present a legal defence in the case opened against it and members can be assured that the Club has always acted within the law and that the Board will defend the Club’s reputation – one of the most emblematic in our country – until the final consequences and in whatever legal context required.
4.- We wish to make clear that FC Barcelona has always fulfilled its tax obligations, both in terms of time and method, and has enjoyed close collaboration with the Spanish Tax Authorities. FC Barcelona has no tax debts.
5.- The Board again insists that in relation to this signing, the Club has scrupulously fulfilled its fiscal obligations in line with its awareness at the time of the contracts and agreements signed in good faith.
6.- Given the existence of a possible divergent interpretation of the exact amount of tax responsibility arising from the signing and to defend the Club’s reputation and good name, FC Barcelona has this morning made a complementary tax declaration of a total of 13,550,830,56 Euros (thirteen million, five hundred and fifty thousand, eight hundred and thirty Euros and fifty-six cents) to cover any potential interpretation made concerning the contracts signed in the transfer process for Neymar, although we remain convinced that the original tax payment was in line with our fiscal obligations.
7.- This voluntary contribution should not be understood as in any way affecting the Club’s right to have its tax obligations in this matter determined by the competent authorities, concerning which the Club reserves the right to further action.
Updates from Thursday, Feb. 20
A court spokesman on Thursday confirmed Barcelona have been charged with tax fraud.
The news was reported by Reuters, via Eurosport.com, which quoted a spokesman saying the following: "Judge Pablo Ruz has charged FC Barcelona with an infringement against the tax authority relating to the purchase of the Brazilian player."
Barcelona had earlier released an official statement, responding to allegations from a prosecutor on behalf of Spain's tax authorities that they are guilty of fraud.
In light of reports appearing in today’s press concerning the transfer process carried out to bring Neymar da Silva Santos Junior to the Club, FC Barcelona would like to state:
1) The Club’s dealings with respect to this operation, and in light of all information available, was at all times in line with the relevant legal legislation.
2) Represented by its lawyers, the Club will appear at the Jutjat Central d’Instruccio number 5 within the next few days in order to defend its interests and rights.
3) We express our total willingness to collaborate with the Justice authorities in this matter, as we have done since the first moment the issue arose and in any other area in which our presence may be required.
Updates from Wednesday, Feb. 19
David Bond of BBC Sport provides the latest on the Neymar saga:
AFP reporting that Spanish prosecutor is seeking criminal tax indictment against #Barcelona over signing of Neymar. Big story— David Bond (@DavidBondBBC) February 19, 2014
Updates from Friday, Feb. 14
The Spanish judge investigating the case has reportedly been refused access by FIFA to documents relating to Neymar's transfer, reports Spanish news agency EFE.
Spanish news agency EFE now say it has been told that FIFA has declined to provide the documents to the Spanish investigation as the Geneva-based ruling body only discloses information which is private and sensitive if requested to do so by a Swiss court.
Updates from Thursday, Jan. 30
Miles Chambers of Goal.com provides a translated statement from Neymar discussing the allegations:
...The statement, released on the Barca forward's Twitter and official website, read: "[Santos] expressly agree that we inform and empower the player Neymar to start straight away any dealings with any entities in sport - national or international - to finalise a possible transfer, provided that this only occurs before 2014."
Dated November 8 2011, the document is signed by Ribeiro, suggesting that the Brazilian club fully recognised Neymar's opportunity to speak with other potential suitors.
It is also stamped by both Santos and Barcelona, and was signed the day before Neymar penned a new contract at the club which would have run until after the World Cup in Brazil.
Updates from Tuesday, Jan. 28
New Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who stepped into the role after Sandro Rosell resigned after details of Neymar's transfer were released, has confirmed the club is to take action against those who leaked the original documents, per an alternate Corrigan report for ESPN FC:
About the leaks to the press of Neymar’s contract, we already have certain evidence that it did not come from here but from Madrid.
I have told our lawyers to follow the subject, and if there is anything, to lodge a complaint. We will get to the bottom of it, whether it is a person, a group, a legal practice or a media publication that has published false figures.
In the light of the serious allegations made last night on RAC 1 by the journalist Xavi Bosch, the President of Real Madrid, Florentino Pérez, wishes to make the following statement:
1. The allegations are totally false and they absurdly try to involve the President of Real Madrid in the legal proceedings started by a member of FC Barcelona against the club’s then President, Sandro Rosell.
2. The President of Real Madrid demands that the journalist who made these false allegations issue a clear and immediate rectification on the same radio station.
3. If this rectification is not made, the President of Real Madrid will sue this journalist in order to protect his honour, his privacy and his reputation. To this end, he has instructed his lawyers to study the content of these allegations.
Dermot Corrigan of ESPN FC explains the intricacies of a deal that is alleged to have seen Neymar's father paid extensively when the transfer went through, while extra monetary exchanges could have given Barcelona first option on other young players:
The court is to ask FIFA and the Neymar & Neymar (N&N) agency run by the player’s father for the various documents lodged for the transfer, amid reports that different versions of the contracts involved exist.
The court has also requested to see the alleged side-agreements made with Santos, which are said to have involved payments of 7.9 million euros being paid for options on three other young players and nine million euros for two friendly games.
The investigation could have major tax implications for both clubs in their respective countries, and there could also be an issue regarding former third-party investors in Neymar who will claim to be owed money from the deal.
Because of the number of parties involved and the various agreements and paperwork in place, it could be some time before the issue is resolved.
That could impact the club, but the best way for Barcelona and Neymar to respond is through success on the pitch.
Barca coach Gerardo Martino has already done a good job of this, as shown by this tweet from Corrigan:
Martino on Neymar deal controversy “The president has said what he said, and we just stick to our job, which is playing football.”— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) January 21, 2014
Although Neymar faces a month on the sidelines through injury, as reported by Pete Jenson of the Daily Mail, the Brazilian has settled in well at the Camp Nou. He has eight assists and six goals in his first 16 league games for the club, per ESPN FC.
Following two successive draws, Barcelona's lead at the top of La Liga has diminished, but they still have the opportunity to recover and retain their Primera Division crown.
With Barcelona's pursuit for silverware and the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Neymar has a busy few months ahead of him, and it will be important for both club and country to keep him focused to ensure he is capable of delivering on the pitch.