Neymar charged

SAO PAULO. — Barcelona and Brazil’s star striker Neymar suffered a fresh legal blow on Tuesday when Brazilian prosecutors filed a tax fraud and forgery case against him.

Two former presidents of Spanish club Barcelona, Alexandre Rosell Feliu and Josep Maria Bartomeu Floresta, were also accused by the Prosecution Service in Santos, Neymar’s home town.

The prosecution’s statement said: “They forged a series of documents between 2006 and 2013 with the intention of reducing the taxes owed to the inland revenue in Brazil.

“Neymar’s conduct, along with the others accused, caused millions in losses to the public coffers.”

A judge must now decide whether the case goes forward.

The 23-year-old and his family have denied any wrongdoing over alleged irregularities in his superstar signing for Barcelona in 2013.

But hours after he gave testimony in Spain in one case, a new front opened up as federal prosecutors in Brazil launched proceedings against him and his father.

Investigators in both countries suspect Neymar’s family and the club hid the real value of the deal under which Barcelona signed him from Brazilian side Santos.

Barcelona valued the transfer at about 57 million euros ($62 million), but Spanish authorities think it added up to more than 83 million euros.

Brazil’s federal prosecution service accused the player, full name Neymar da Silva Santos Junior, and his father of forging contracts to pay less tax.

It made the same accusations against his father and two senior FC Barcelona management figures: the club’s current president Josep Maria Bartomeu and his predecessor Sandro Rosell.

A federal court must now decide whether to admit the charges and put them on trial.

Last September, Brazilian authorities froze $47 million worth of the player’s assets pending investigations.

The federal prosecution service said in a statement the charges related to “tax evasion and forgery,” which cost the state “millions” in lost taxes.

Wearing jeans and sunglasses, Neymar seemed relaxed as he arrived at Spain’s National Court in Madrid with his father Neymar da Silva Santos, who was also called to testify before an investigating judge.

The player signed an autograph in front of a group of photographers before giving the thumbs-up and entering court, where he stayed an hour and a half.

He made no comment when he left, but took a multitude of selfies with young supporters. — AFP.

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