Court summons Neymar

MADRID. — Barcelona’s Brazilian soccer star Neymar has been called to give evidence by Spain’s national court on February 2 for alleged fraud surrounding his transfer to Barcelona in 2013.

Both the player’s parents, Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu and former club president Sandro Rosell, as well as two directors of Neymar’s former club Santos have also been called to declare, according to a court filing released yesterday.

Barcelona and Santos will also have to give evidence via representatives on February 9 and February 1, respectively.

Public prosecutors filed for action to be taken against all the parties after a complaint of fraud and corruption was launched by the Brazilian investment fund DIS, which held 40 percent of Neymar’s sporting rights when he played at Santos, at the court in June 2015.

DIS has claimed it was cheated of its real share of the benefits of 23-year-old Neymar’s transfer in 2013 because part of the transfer fee was concealed by Barcelona and Santos.

The deal was originally valued at 57,1 million euros ($62,1 million) by the Catalan club, but the Spanish judicial authorities have estimated the amount to be at least 83,3 million.

DIS received 6,8 million euros out of the total 17,1 million that Barcelona paid to Santos, but claims it may also be due a share of the overall transfer payments.

In a separate lawsuit, a judge in May 2015 ordered Bartomeu, Rosell and the club itself to stand trial over alleged tax fraud linked to the signing.

The scandal over the concealed transfer fee led to Rosell’s resignation as president in January 2014 with then vice-president Bartomeu taking charge.

It is alleged the overall fee was split between a number of different contracts between Barcelona, Santos and Neymar himself.

A Brazilian court has also taken action freezing $47 million in assets belonging to Neymar over tax evasion allegations between 2011 and 2013.

Neymar’s fiscal problems haven’t affected his form on the field as he finished third in FIFA’s Ballon d’Or for the best player in the world on Monday after helping Barca to win five trophies in 2015.

However, it has cast some doubt over his future at the club with his father Neymar (Snr) saying he would seek tax assurances before signing an extension to his Barcelona deal, which expires in 2018. — AFP.

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