Reuters is reporting that Barcelona have paid $18.6 million to Spanish authorities after the club was charged last week with tax fraud in the signing of Brazilian superstar Neymar.
In an official statement on its website Barcelona denied any tax offense and said that “complementary tax declaration” was issued due to a “a possible divergent interpretation of the exact amount of tax responsibility” arising from monies they owed to Neymar’s previous club, Santos, following his transfer last summer. The club also noted it “remain[s] convinced that the original tax payment was in line with [its] fiscal obligations.”
Whether the payment will result in the Madrid court dropping the tax fraud charges levied on the club last Thursday was unclear.
Barcelona announced in January that Neymar’s transfer cost $118 million, nearly $41 million more than the originally quoted fee. A document filed in Madrid’s National Court also said the Catalan club paid Neymar $13.7 million in 2011 and $38.4 million in 2013 as incentives to leave Santos.
The story emerged last month after a club member filed a complaint against then-club president Sandro Rosell alleging misappropriation of funds. Rosell, who denied any wrongdoing, thereafter resigned claiming he wanted to protect the club’s image and alleging he and his family had been threatened over the ordeal.
The presiding judge has requested Barcelona’s tax records relating to the Neymar deal and asked the tax authority to calculate the damages resulting from the alleged fraud. It remains to be seen whether the $18.6 million paid by Barcelona will cover the scale of damages as determined by the tax authority. At the very least it indicates an admitted oversight on behalf of the club and a desire to end the controversy in an expeditious manner.