By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Superstar forward from Brazil, Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, is facing up to six years in prison from a Spanish court over alleged fraud related to his 2013 transfer from Brazil’s FC Santos to Spain’s FC Barcelona.
According to local reports, judge Jose Maria Vazquez Honrubia, from Spain’s national court, has stated that the fraud case could lead to a sentence of “between four to six years in prison” for the 26-year-old.
Since the case carries the possibility of a sentence greater than five years, under Spanish law Judge Honrubia was forced to refer the case to Spain’s Criminal Chamber, a higher judicial body comprised of a three-judge panel.
In addition to Neymar, his parents, FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu, Bartomeu’s predecessor Sandro Rosell, and FC Santos former president Odilio Rodrigues Filho, now all await trial for the fraud case that stems from a complaint filed by DIS, a Brazilian investment company that had partly owned Neymar’s rights.
DIS alleges that Barcelona and Santos intentionally falsified the true cost of the 2013 transfer fee to escape paying taxes and DIS’s portion of the fee, which DIS claims to be forty percent.
At the time of the deal, it was initially reported that the cost of the transfer fee was €57.1 million (US$64 million). But about a year after the deal was consummated, Barcelona admitted that the transfer fee they paid for Neymar was actually much higher: €86.2 million (US$96.6 million), a full €30 million ($32.6 million) more than originally stated.
The scandal led to the resignation of FC Barcelona club president Sandro Rosell and incited an investigation and fines from Spain’s tax authorities.
In response to Judge Honrubia’s transfer of the case to Spain’s Criminal Chamber on Wednesday (October 31st), Neymar’s representatives from NR Sports said in a statement that this only furthers their defense that “Spain does not have jurisdiction to judge DIS’s claim.”
Neymar is currently playing for French club Paris Saint-Germain, who he joined from FC Barcelona in the summer of 2017 in a world-record €222 million transfer (US$263 million).
With Neymar’s annual salary of €45 million (US$53 million) and a five-year contract, PSG’s total cost for Neymar is upwards of €400 million (US$500 million).