Barcelona forward Neymar, his parents and two of the club’s executives should stand trial for alleged corruption, Spain’s High Court said on Monday as it wrapped up a fraud investigation into the Brazil international’s transfer to the Catalan team.
The case stems from a complaint by a Brazilian investment group, DIS, which owned part of Neymar’s transfer rights and which alleges it received less money than it was entitled to.
Investigating magistrate Jose de la Mata of Spain’s High Court said in a written ruling that the prosecution had 10 days to decide to go ahead or withdraw their claim – a formality that normally precedes the launch of a trial process.
Barcelona and Neymar’s former club in Brazil, Santos, have come under fire for the way the transfer was completed in 2013.
Investigations have also centred on how Barca allegedly concealed an initial contract to poach the player two years earlier, in 2011.
DIS owned 40 percent of Neymar’s sporting rights when the player’s transfer to Barca went ahead and claims Barcelona hid the real fee and kept it out of the loop in its dealings.
The club – which has already agreed to pay 5.5 million euros($6.1 million) to Spanish tax authorities in relation to the case – had initially said they paid 57.1 million euros for Neymar but later said the cost was nearer 100 million.
The Spanish court said it was proposing that Neymar, his father-cum-agent Neymar Da Silva Santos and his mother Nadine Goncalves, a 50 percent shareholder of the family company N&N, be tried on a corruption charge.
It also recommended that Barca’s current chairman, Josep Maria Bartomeu, his predecessor Sandro Rosell, and the club should also stand tried for corruption and fraud.
Santos and its former chairman Odilio Rodrigues may have also committed fraud, it said.
Spanish champions Barca said in a statement its board would appeal the ruling.
“The board is surprised and totally disagrees with this ruling and the reasoning behind it,” the club said.
It added that if the trial went ahead it would continue to defend the innocence of all of those being investigated.