Neymar, Barca to stand trial on fraud charges

Brazil forward Neymar will stand trial next week on fraud and corruption charges over his transfer to Barcelona from Santos in 2013 and the complainant, Brazilian investment firm DIS, said on Thursday it was demanding a five-year jail term.

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Along with Neymar, the defendants in the trial being brought by Spanish prosecutors, which begins in Barcelona on Monday, are his parents, the two clubs, former Barca presidents Josep Maria Bartomeu and Sandro Rosell, and former Santos president Odilio Rodrigues.

The case stems from a complaint by DIS, a Brazilian company that owned 40% of the rights to Neymar when he was at Santos. It argues it lost out on its rightful cut from the transfer because the true value of the deal was understated.

Neymar has denied the allegations but lost an appeal in Spain’s High Court in 2017, which paved the way for the trial.

Reuters has contacted representatives for Neymar and his parents for comment.

Rosell has also previously denied any wrongdoing. His representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

Barcelona and lawyers representing Bartomeu declined to comment on the case. Santos did not immediately respond to a request for comment and Rodrigues could not be immediately reached.

DIS is also requesting jail terms for Rosell and Bartomeu, and a €149 million ($144m) fine.

Spanish prosecutors want a two-year prison term for Neymar and the payment of a €10m fine and a five-year jail term for Rosell plus an €8.4m fine for the Spanish club.

DIS acquired 40% of Neymar’s rights when he was aged 17 in exchange for €2m. It argues that the player’s sale to Barcelona was well below his real market value.

Barcelona said at the time of Neymar’s move that the transfer figure was €57.1m, of which €40m was paid to Neymar’s family.

DIS received a 40% share of the remaining €17.1m that was paid to Santos.

“Neymar’s rights have not been sold to the highest bidder. There were clubs that offered up to €60m euros,” DIS lawyer Paulo Nasser told a news conference in Barcelona on Thursday.

The court in Barcelona where the trial will be held said Neymar will have to appear in-person on Monday for the first day but it is unclear if he will be asked to stay for the whole hearing that could go on for two weeks.

Neymar, his parents, Rosell and Bartomeu will start their testimony next Friday.

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