Brazilian football superstar Neymar could face 6 years in prison in Spain if convicted of fraud over irregularities in his transfer to Barcelona five years ago. Prosecutors were initially seeking a 2 year sentence, but the judge overseeing the case has said that, if proven, the fraud and corruption charges merit a 4-6 year penalty.
A Brazilian investment group, DIS, part owned his playing rights and were entitled to a share of his transfer fee from FC Santos to Barca. The fee was initially reported as being 57.1 million euros, with 40 million going to Neymar’s parents and 17.1 to FC Santos.
Documents requested by the authorities revealed conflicting statements, and Spanish prosecutors eventually discovered that the actual fee was 86.2 million (the breakdown in payments is unknown). DIS received 6 million euros out of the fee paid to Santos, and are claiming that there was a conspiracy to keep them in the dark about how much they should have been paid.
The statement that the charges merit 4-6 years in prison is a blow for Neymar, as in Spain sentences of 2 years or less are often suspended for non-violent crimes, meaning he would have been unlikely to actually serve time. With the potential penalty now exceeding 5 years a tribunal of judges will oversee the trial.
Neymar’s parents, FC Santos, FC Barcelona, former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell and current president Josep Bartomeu as well as Santos former president Odilio Filho are all also facing charges over the alleged fraud, and all have denied any wrongdoing (as has Neymar).
The trial date has not been set, however it seems all but certain that the group (or as many as can be extradited to Spain) will be prosecuted. The issue is very murky, and who knew what, and did what, is very unclear.
Neymar has since moved on from Barca to French club Paris Saint-Germain. This transfer is not under any cloud.