Barca chiefs to stand trial in Neymar tax fraud case

MADRID (Reuters) – A Spanish judge has ordered Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu, his predecessor Sandro Rosell and the club to stand trial on charges they committed tax fraud in the signing of Brazil forward Neymar.

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Judge Jose de la Mata has given the defendants, who deny any wrongdoing, 10 days in which to present their defence in writing, according to court documents published on Wednesday.

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Bartomeu was a vice president under Rosell when Neymar was signed from Santos in 2013 in a complex deal involving multiple contracts with the player and his father.

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In total, Bartomeu, Rosell, who resigned over the allegations, and the club have been accused of defrauding the tax office of nearly 13 million euros ($14.77 million).

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Prosecutors have asked for a prison sentence of two years and three months for Bartomeu and 7-1/2 years for Rosell, plus fines and payments of outstanding taxes totalling more than 60 million euros.

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The tax probe was launched after a club member questioned the figures given for the Neymar deal. Barca initially said they paid 57.1 million euros but later admitted the cost was nearer 100 million.

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