The public prosecutor at Spain’s High Court wants Barcelona president Josep María Bartomeu to be officially targeted in an ongoing tax fraud investigation involving the soccer club’s signing of Brazilian player Neymar.
Prosecutor José Perals is asking High Court judge Pablo Ruz to investigate whether Bartomeu withheld around €2.8 million in taxes last year in connection with the signing of the star forward.
The petition is based on a report by the Tax Agency, which found irregularities in the club’s filings for 2014.
The prosecutor wants the Bartomeu offshoot of the Neymar case to be dealt with separately
The soccer club itself and former president Sandro Rosell are already being investigated for similar tax irregularities committed in 2011 and 2013, also involving the player’s transfer.
Rosell stepped down in January of last year after becoming an official target of the investigation into the alleged embezzlement. His place was taken by vice-president Bartomeu, whose term runs out in 2016.
The prosecutor wants the Bartomeu offshoot of the case to be dealt with separately so as not to slow down the ongoing probe.
According to the Tax Agency report, Barça failed to pay €2.6 million for €5 million derived from a contract signed in Barcelona on June 3, 2013. This contract recognized the club’s obligation to pay Neymar €40 million. The last €5 million were due to paid out on January 30, 2014.
The attorney feels that Barça should have withheld income tax on that amount, as the player had already established his fiscal residence in Spain. But the club failed to do so.
Barça also failed to pay €234,000 in taxes derived from image rights in 2014, and another €11,700 involving representation rights, for a total tally of around €2.8 million.
The original lawsuit was brought by a club member named Jordi Cases, after he asked the club to clarify the Neymar deal, which it claims was worth €57.1 million, and received no reply. He alleged that the real amount of the transfer was €94.4 million.