Neymar cleared of fraud, corruption charges over Barca deal
Spanish prosecutors on Friday dropped all fraud and corruption charges against Brazil forward Neymar and others accused over his transfer to Barcelona from Santos in 2013, the public prosecutor told a court.
Prosecutors had sought a two-year prison term for Neymar and the payment of a €10 million ($9.95m) fine in the case brought by Brazilian investment firm DIS, which owned 40% of the rights to Neymar when he was at Santos.
DIS argues that it lost out on its rightful cut from the transfer because the true value was understated.
“There is not the slightest hint of crime,” prosecutor Luis Garcia Canton said after all defendants had testified in the trial in Barcelona, asking the judge for the “acquittal of all defendants”.
The prosecution had also sought a five-year jail term for former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell and an €8.4m fine for Barcelona.
At the start of the trial, DIS said it was demanding a five-year jail term for Neymar, and a total fine of €149m fine for the defendants.
A source close to Neymar’s legal representatives Baker McKenzie told Reuters that they would claim costs against the private prosecution for what they consider recklessness, acting in poor faith and for abuse of process.
They will also reserve the right to claim for damages.
Neymar will have the right to have a final say — via video conference — next Monday on the trial’s last day.
“Believe in yourself and God will show you how strong you are,” Neymar said on Twitter.
A court document released in July alleges that Barcelona initiated negotiations on 2011 with Neymar, paying him €40m to ensure his move when his contract with Santos would expire in 2014.
“I believe it’s excessive to consider that offering €40m is a crime,” the prosecutor said, calling it a signing bonus.
Before the prosecutor dropped his charges, Rosell had downplayed the €40m payment.
“It’s like when you buy an apartment and make a down payment … it’s paying to have a priority future right of what you want to acquire,” the former Barcelona chief testified.
Jose Domingo Barral, former president of Brazil’s conglomerate Grupo Sonda, which included DIS, told the court a Barcelona representative offered them €5.5m twice — the latest in 2015 — to withdraw DIS’ complaint.
DIS received €6.8m — 40% of Neymar’s official transfer price of €17.1m — but Barral said the figure was unrealistic given the player’s valuation.