Judge accepts charges against Neymar over Barcelona transfer

FC Barcelona's Neymar, right, celebrates with his teammate Luis Suarez. (Manu Fernandez/AP)

MADRID — Neymar could be back in court, this time on corruption charges.

A Spanish judge on Monday accepted charges against Neymar for irregularities regarding his transfer to Barcelona, opening the way for a trial involving the Brazilian forward and his parents.

Barcelona club president Josep Maria Bartomeu and former president Sandro Rosell are also set to stand trial after a complaint brought by Brazilian investment group DIS, which was entitled to 40 per cent of Neymar’s transfer from Brazilian club Santos in 2013 but said it received a smaller compensation because part of the transfer fee was concealed.

Fraud charges were accepted against Barcelona, Santos and a former president of the Brazilian club.

With Monday’s ruling by National Court judge Jose de la Mata, prosecutors will have 10 days to formalize their request for a trial.

The ruling was expected after prosecutors won an appeal to keep the case alive two months ago. De la Mata had shelved the complaint by DIS earlier this year, but a group of judges ruled that there was enough evidence to reopen the case.

Neymar and his father, who acts as the player’s agent, appeared in a Madrid court in February to defend themselves. All other parties being accused by prosecutors also have denied wrongdoing.

In June, Barcelona paid a fine of 5.5 million euros ($6.1 million) to settle a separate case brought by Spain’s tax authorities. In that agreement, the club acknowledged it made "an error in the fiscal planning of the player’s transfer."

Barcelona said the price of Neymar’s transfer was 57.1 million euros ($63.6 million), with Santos receiving 17.1 million euros ($19 million). Prosecutors said the total amount paid by the Spanish club to Santos was 25.1 million euros ($27.9 million), meaning DIS would be entitled to an additional 3.2 million euros ($3.5 million).

Prosecutors said the difference comes from payments made by Barcelona for the future acquisitions of other players, as well as partnerships for friendly matches between the clubs.

According to court documents, DIS paid 5 million reals (1.4 million euros; $1.5 million) for its 40 per cent of Neymar’s rights in 2009.

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