Saturday, 26 November 2016

Neymar could face two-year jail term after judge calls for prison sentence in Barcelona transfer corruption case

Spanish prosecutors are seeking a two-year prison sentence for Barcelona forward Neymar along with a $10.6m fine for his part in a corruption case that surrounds his controversial move from Santos to Barcelona in 2013, a court filing said.

Judge Jose Perals also called for a five-year sentence for former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell and a fine of €8.4m (£7.1m) for the club, but called for charges against current president Josep Maria Bartomeu to be dropped.

The case stems from a complaint by Brazilian investment group DIS, which owned 40 per cent of Brazil forward Neymar's transfer rights and which alleges it received less money than it was entitled to as Barca concealed the real transfer fee.

Barcelona have been engulfed in legal troubles over Neymar's transfer since 2013. Rosell resigned as the club's president in 2014 for his role in the affair and testified in court in February alongside Bartomeu, Neymar and Neymar's father.

The club struck a deal with prosecutors in June to settle a separate case and paid a €5.5m (£4.7m) fine and avoided trial on charges of tax evasion over the transfer.

Barca thought they had brought the affair to a close when judge Jose de la Mata archived the case in June, although Spain's public prosecutor successfully overturned the ruling in September, allowing the case to proceed.

Prosecutors are also calling for a two-year jail sentence for Neymar’s father, Neymar Sr, and a one-year term for the player’s mother, Nadine da Silva.

However, Neymar is unlikely to serve any prison time if he is convicted as, under Spanish law, any sentence of two years or under in duration can be suspended. Neymar’s teammates, Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano, have both received prison sentences of 21 months and 12 months respectively after being found guilty of tax fraud, which were suspended and resulted in neither serving any jail time providing they do not offend again during their suspended sentences.

Messi was convicted in July this year for tax fraud and both he and his father, Jorge Messi, were sentenced to 21 months in prison. Neither have served time in jail though due to the suspensions to their sentence, with Messi ordered to pay €1.7m in fines over three counts of tax fraud, while his father had to pay €1.3m.

Neymar has already paid 188.8m Brazilian reals [£36m] after he was found guilty of tax evasion by a Brazilian court. Neymar was found to have failed to pay the tax due on his earnings from contracts with former club Santos, Barcelona and Nike from 2011 until 2013.
Neymar could face two-year jail term after judge calls for prison sentence in Barcelona transfer corruption case
Additional reporting by Reuters.
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