Tax trial urged for Barcelona FC

Spain’s prosecutor has called on the national court to open a trial against Barcelona football club for alleged tax evasion — including in the signing of Brazil striker Neymar.

In a statement, the prosecutor called for jail terms of more than two years for the club’s current president Josep Bartomeu, and more than seven years for his predecessor, Alexandre ‘Sandro’ Rosell, as well as the imposition of large fines.

The prosecutor called for the club itself to be fined €22.2m for alleged false accounting in the tax returns for 2011, 2013, and 2014.

On March 13, investigating judge Pablo Ruz had named Bartomeu and Rosell in a tax fraud and fraudulent administration probe into the 2013 signing of the Brazilian star.

The judge alleged the club fabricated a labyrinth of contracts to conceal the real cost of the signing. At the time, Ruz set a deadline of 10 days for the prosecutor to submit an indictment setting out the penalties it sought for the defendants.

The prosecutor has agreed with Ruz that Barcelona paid at least €84m for Neymar, and that by presenting a lower figure the club allegedly reduced its tax burden in a fraudulent manner.

Barcelona has denied any wrongdoing and said it would appeal.


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