Court reopens case and Neymar could face trial for fraud
ABS-CBN Sports on Sep 24, 2016 10:00 AM
FC Barcelona's Neymar reacts during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid at the Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
TALES AZZONI, AP Sports Writer
MADRID (AP) — A case into alleged irregularities regarding the transfer of striker Neymar to Spanish club Barcelona has been reopened and the Brazil star could face a trial for fraud, a Madrid court said Friday.
The ruling came less than three months after National Court judge Jose de la Mata shelved the complaint brought by Brazilian investment group DIS against Neymar, his father, former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell, Brazilian club Santos and its former president, Odilio Rodrigues.
Prosecutors appealed and a group of judges ruled that there is still enough evidence to keep the case alive. The decision opens the way for a trial, although it could still be avoided if the parties reach a deal.
Barcelona said it disagreed "with the reasoning for the decision to continue" the case.
"Barcelona will maintain the thesis that it has defended all along, showing that all those being investigated are innocent," the club said in a statement.
All parties being accused by prosecutors have denied wrongdoing. Neymar and his father, who acts as the player's agent, appeared at a Madrid court in February to defend themselves.
The Brazilian investment group was entitled to 40 percent of Neymar's transfer from Brazilian club Santos in 2013, but claimed it received a smaller compensation than it should have because part of the transfer fee was concealed. An association of professional players in Brazil has also joined DIS in the case.
In June, Barcelona paid a fine of 5.5 million euros ($6.2 million) to settle a separate case brought against the club by Spain's tax authorities. In that agreement, the club acknowledged it made "an error in the fiscal planning of the player's transfer."
Barcelona said the price of Neymar's transfer was 57.1 million euros ($64 million), with Santos receiving 17.1 million euros ($19 million) and a company owned by Neymar's parents 40 million euros ($44 million).
Prosecutors said the total amount paid by the Spanish club to Santos was 25.1 million euros ($28 million), meaning DIS would be entitled to an additional 3.2 million euros ($3.6 million).
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 (1.4 million euros; $1.6 million) for its 40 percent of Neymar's rights in 2009.
Earlier this year, Neymar extended his contract with Barcelona until 2021.
In his first three seasons with the Catalan club, the 24-year-old Neymar scored 85 goals in 141 games, forming a potent strike trio with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.
He helped the team win two Spanish leagues, two Copa del Reys, the Champions League, the European Super Cup, the Spanish Super Cup and the Club World Cup.
Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/tales-azzoni