Among the euphoria and expectations amid Champions League final between Juventus and Barca, something came up from behind the dressing room. Barcelona may be on its way to having an historically good season, but it’s also having an historically litigious one. Brazilian soccer star Neymar is being investigated by the country’s tax authorities, according to documents published by the finance ministry.
Federal prosecutors said they hope to file charges against Neymar, who’s set to face Juventus in Saturday’s Champions League final, in the next few weeks. They are apparently investigating an “unusual” cash flow of £24m at his parents’ company between 2011 and 2014.
“Santos believes that Barcelona, Neymar and his company violated the transfer contract and therefore, it claims compensation of damages,” Santos President Modesto Roma said in a statement on Saturday. While Pablo Ruz, a judge at Spain’s National Court, gave permission to open a trial for “crimes against the public tax agency” and for “dishonest” management, according to a written ruling.
Neymar’s father, who doubles as his agent, is also reportedly named in the suit that cites breach of contract over monies disclosed in Neymar’s transfer fee from the Brazilian club to Barcelona. Neymar moved to Spain in 2013 in a transfer that proved controversial with his former team Santos taking legal action over the move. Federal prosecutors in Sao Paulo have opened a separate case, according to a document filed there.
Barcelona and Santos had initially said the transfer of Neymar, the star player on Brazil’s national team, was worth €17.1 million. The true cost of the trade was revealed to be significantly higher when Barcelona was threatened with legal action by one of the club’s members. The club said investigations in Spain later showed that Barcelona had spent nearly $91 million to acquire him. However it is still not very clear what sum Santos is seeking, but millions of dollars could be at stake.
The star defended the deal and the profit his father made from it, saying: “I’ve been quiet until now, but I can’t go on listening to all these things about my transfer. A lot of people come out and talk a load of rubbish; calling our character into doubt.”
Neymar isn’t the only Barcelona player with tax problems. Four-time world player of the year Lionel Messi was the subject of a Spanish complaint that he and his father evaded 4.2 million euros in taxes on endorsement payments from Adidas AG, PepsiCo Inc., Procter & Gamble Co. and other companies.