Wed, Feb 26, 2014 - Page 20 News List

Barcelona pay up US$18.6m to tax office over Neymar

AP, BARCELONA, Spain

Barcelona on Monday paid 13.55 million euros (US$18.6 million) to the Spanish tax authorities to cover any potential irregularities in its signing of Brazil striker Neymar, all the while maintaining their innocence of the fraud charges levied against the club.

The Spanish champions said in a statement that they paid the “complimentary” amount to cover any “eventual interpretations that could come out of the contracts signed relating to the transfer of Neymar. Meanwhile, we are convinced of the legality of our initial fulfillment relating to our tax obligations.”

Barcelona’s actions take the price of Neymar’s transfer to more than 100 million euros, after the Catalan club initially said it paid 57.1 million euros for the forward.

That sum does not include bonus payments made by Barcelona, or the 22-year-old’s salary, meaning that his total cost likely exceeds the record-breaking 100 million euros-plus spent by rivals Real Madrid on Gareth Bale last summer.

Spain’s tax authorities charged Barcelona with fraud on Thursday last week, alleging that the club swindled the state of 9.1 million euros through payments to varying companies and false contracts.

Of the initial transfer fee, Brazilian side Santos received 17.1 million euros, while Neymar’s father, who also goes by Neymar, earned 40 million euros.

The tax authorities considered the amount paid to Neymar’s father as a salary, Barca said.

The Catalan side insists that they “scrupulously” met their financial obligations in signing the player from Santos and that they would continue to work with the government to resolve the matter.

Neymar’s signing forced the resignation of Sandro Rosell as Barca president last month, after one club member’s petition to learn more about the intricate details of what has become a club-record signing was kept in the dark.

Rosell’s successor, Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu, said that Monday’s figures were the final, transparent sums associated to the deal, despite having previously said the same about the initial 57.1 million euros that the franchise paid out.

“We did everything we could to bring Neymar to Barca. We’re very confident about our dealings, everything has been transparent,” Bartomeu said. “We would do everything again exactly the same way.”

Rosell was being investigated by the same Spanish court that laid the fraud charges against the club. Barcelona said the decision to make the payment came after an emergency board meeting on Sunday.

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