Neymar on trial for corruption and fraud, could face five-year prison term over transfer to Barcelona
Neymar will stand trial next week on charges of fraud and corruption over his 2013 transfer to Barcelona from Brazilian club Santos, with Brazilian investment firm DIS demanding that the footballer face a five-year prison sentence.
The defendants in the trial that is being brought by Spanish prosecutors include Neymar, his parents, Barcelona and its former presidents Josep Maria Bartomeu and Sandro Rosell, as well as Santos and former president Odilio Rodrigues.
DIS owned 40% of the rights to Neymar when he was still playing at Santos. The investment firm is now claiming that it lost out on its cut from the Brazilian’s move to Barcelona because the true value of the deal was understated. DIS acquired the 40% of the rights to Neymar when he was 17 for €2m.
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Neymar had previously denied that there was any legitimacy to DIS’ claim, but he lost an appeal in Spain’s High Court in 2017.
DIS is also requesting jail terms for both Rosell and Bartomeu and a fine worth €149 million.
Spanish prosecutors are asking for 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 Barcelona.
The Catalan club said at the time of Neymar’s move, the transfer figure was €57.1m, €40m of which was paid to Neymar’s family. DIS then 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,” DIS lawyer Paulo Nasser said in a news conference in Barcelona on Thursday.
In a statement, Backer McKenzie, the lawyers representing the Neymar family, claimed that Spanish courts “lack jurisdiction to prosecute the Neymar family and their company N&N” because the acts were committed by Brazilian nationals outside Spanish territory. It was also pointed out that the alleged crimes are not punishable in Brazil.
The statement also mentioned that Neymar and his family have been charged with “corruption between private individuals,” which applies to “competition of products and services between companies,” pointing out that Neymar himself “is not a service or a commodity”.
The court in Barcelona where the trial will be held said that the Paris Saint-Germain player 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 and his parents, Rosell and Bartomeu, will start their testimony next Friday.
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