Neymar: Spain’s state prosecutor drops fraud charges against star over Barcelona deal

Neymar leaving court on October 18  (AFP via Getty Images)
Neymar leaving court on October 18 (AFP via Getty Images)

Spanish prosecutors on Friday dropped all fraud and corruption charges against Brazil forward Neymar and other defendants in a case over his transfer to Barcelona from Santos in 2013.

Prosecutors had sought a two-year prison term for Neymar and the payment of a $9.95 million fine in the case brought by Brazilian investment firm DIS, which owned 40% of the rights to Neymar when he was at Santos.

A court document released in July alleges that Barcelona initiated negotiations in 2011 with Neymar, paying him $40 million to ensure his move when his contract with Santos would expire in 2014.

DIS argues that it lost out on its rightful cut from the transfer because the true value was understated.

But after all defendants had testified in the case, prosecutor Luis Garcia Canton told a Barcelona court “there is not the slightest hint of crime,” asking the judge for the accused to be acquitted.

The prosecution had also sought a five-year jail term for former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell and an $8.4 million 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 $149 million for the defendants.

A source close to Neymar’s legal representatives Baker McKenzie have since told news agency 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.

Before the prosecutor dropped his charges, Mr Rosell had downplayed the $40 million payment paid by Barcelona.

“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.

State prosecutor Mr Canton has now concluded: “I believe it’s excessive to consider that offering $40 million is a crime,” instead calling the sum a signing bonus.

Jose Domingo Barral, former president of Brazil’s conglomerate Grupo Sonda, which included DIS, told the court a Barcelona representative offered them $5.5 million twice - the latest in 2015 - to withdraw DIS’ complaint.

DIS received $6.8 million - 40% of Neymar’s official transfer price of $17.1 million - but Mr Barral said the figure was unrealistic given the player’s valuation.