Spanish prosecutors seek two-year sentence for Neymar


FC Barcelona striker, Neymar. PHOTO/File
FC Barcelona striker, Neymar. PHOTO/File

 

Spanish prosecutors recommended that Brazilian star Neymar be handed a two-year jail sentence and a fine of 10 million euros ($10.6 million) for alleged corrupt practices in his transfer to Barcelona, a court filing revealed on Wednesday.

Prosecutors are also seeking a five-year sentence for former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell — who resigned over the scandal in 2014 — on counts of fraud and corruption, but dropped charges against current president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

The case initiated with a complaint from Brazilian investment company DIS, which owned 40 percent of Neymar’s sporting rights at the time of his transfer from Santos in 2013.

In presenting their case on Wednesday, DIS called for five-year sentences for Neymar and his parents, who acted as the player’s representatives, eight years for Rosell and Bartomeu plus a mammoth 195 million euro fine for Barca.

Sentences of two years or less are habitually suspended for first time offenders in Spain.

However, DIS also recommended that Neymar be banned from playing football during any judicial sentence.

Barcelona initially announced the cost of the move at 57.1 million euros, 17.1 million of which was paid to Santos with the remaining 40 million paid to N&N, a company owned by Neymar’s family.

However, Spanish authorities believe the real cost escalated to 83.3 million.

DIS received just 6.8 million euros, 40 percent of the fee paid to Santos.

The company believes it was cheated of its real share because part of the transfer fee was concealed by Barcelona, Santos and the Neymar family.

“We feel betrayed by Neymar and his family,” DIS chief executive Roberto Moreno told reporters.

Moreover, DIS also argued a pre-contract agreement between Neymar and Barca signed in 2011 impeded other clubs from making offers for the player, affecting the value of the transfer fee.

In July a judge ruled that irregularities in the transfer were detected, but said it was an issue for a civil court, not a criminal court to settle.

However, prosecutors successfully argued the player and his father were aware of potentially fraudulent dealings between Barcelona and Santos to the detriment of DIS to fully overturn that decision.

– Image blow –

The decision is another blow to the image of the Spanish champions and the player himself.

Barca hoped to bring an end to the murky affair when the club agreed to pay a 5.5-million-euro fine in a deal with prosecutors in June to settle a separate case and ensure the club avoided trial on tax-evasion charges over the transfer.

Neymar is far from the only Barca star to find himself embroiled in problems with the Spanish authorities.

Five-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi and his father were given 21-month jail sentences in July for tax fraud relating to the player’s image rights.

Barca’s Argentine defender Javier Mascherano also agreed a one-year suspended sentence with authorities for tax fraud earlier this year.

The off-field upheaval hasn’t affected Barca or Neymar with the signing an undoubted sporting success as he has formed one of the most fearsome strike partnerships of all-time with Messi and Luis Suarez.

Barca have won back-to-back Spanish league and Cup doubles with the trio and the Champions League in 2015.

Neymar signed a bumper new deal with the club to extend his contract until 2021 in July despite admitting he held talks with Paris Saint-Germain amidst interest from a host of top European clubs in luring him away.

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