Barcelona president questioned in court over Neymar transfer
MADRID (AP) — Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu was questioned by a National Court judge for more than three hours on Friday, as a suspect in a tax fraud probe linked to the signing of striker Neymar.
Bartomeu emerged from the court in Madrid accompanied by a legal representative, and declined to comment.
The club later said in a statement that Bartomeu answered all of Judge Pablo Ruz’s questions, and defended “the correctness of the decisions taken in this matter, always under the guidance of the club’s tax advisers.”
The citation arises from a request by State Prosecutor Jose Perals that Ruz investigate Bartomeu and the club over an alleged fraud committed in the signing of Neymar.
Perals submitted his request to Ruz based on a tax official’s audit of Barcelona’s accounts that appeared to show the club failed to pay the correct amount of taxes on the deal.
Ruz is trying to determine whether Bartomeu, as club president, defrauded Spain’s Tax Office of 2.8 million euros ($3.2 million).
Barcelona has lodged 13.5 million euros with the tax office, and hopes the case will be settled out of court.
In its statement, Barcelona said “there has never been the intention of defrauding the exchequer.”
Neymar’s transfer fee has been under scrutiny since his presentation at the Camp Nou on June 3, 2013.
When he was named a suspect in the case, on Feb. 4, Bartomeu blamed Real Madrid and the Spanish state. He said, “All this comes from someone who did not want (Neymar) to come to Barca.”