FC Barcelona has been hit with yet another charge of tax fraud as Spanish authorities are investigating the details in the transfer of Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, known simply as Neymar.
One of the most popular clubs in the world, Barcelona is being charged with tax evasion during the transaction that brought the 22-year-old Brazilian superstar to its ranks on May 23, 2013.
The high-profile FC Barcelona player has been called “an excellent player” by fellow Brazilian soccer great Pele and even before his transfer to the Spanish club he was considered one of the top players in the world.
Forbes ranked him the number eight best paid soccer player of 2013 and even before coming to Spain he had collected endorsements from such high profile firms as Nike, Panasonic, Santander, and Volkswagen.
The Barcelona striker made his professional debut in 2009 and from the beginning was considered a top prospect and speculation immediately began as to what big club would sign him, especially after he said that playing in Europe was a dream of his.
In 2011 there was rampant speculation that Neymar would sign with either Real Madrid or Barcelona, but the Brazilian star denied he had a commitment with anyone.
Finally in 2013 the player announced that he would indeed be heading to Europe, specifically to FC Barcelona along with another established superstar, Lionel Messi.
At the time the details of the deal that brought Neymar to FC Barcelona were few, but this week they became public and Spanish tax authorities indicted the club on tax charges related to his signing.
Prosecutors accuse the team of “financial engineering” when Barcelona made payments to a Brazilian company controlled by Neymar’s father.
Prosecutors allege the payments were taxable, but Barcelona disguised them as other payments in order to avoid reporting income and tax requirements.
What we know is that FC Barcelona paid a total of 86.2 million euros ($118.24 million) to Neymar’s former club, Santos and others, and not 57.1 million as they originally said.
Allegedly payments for commissions and services including marketing, were made to Neymar’s father and the payments made to Santos were considerably less than reported.
Santos officials involved in the negotiations at the time, squarely lay the blame at Neymar’s father’s feet and question his integrity. The Brazilian star has been very vocal in defending his father.
“I am a fan of my father for having brought me where I am today and if he has earned millions with that, well what is the problem? It worked, nothing fell out of the sky.”
FC Barcelona has already suffered negative effects from the scandal. Sandro Rosell, former Barca president, resigned last month after initial accusations of misappropriation of funds were made public.
This is the second tax fraud scandal to hit FC Barcelona recently. Last year, Argentinian superstar Lionel Messi — and his father — were also accused of tax fraud by Spanish prosecutors.