A Spanish judge on Friday dropped a fraud and corruption case against Brazilian superstar Neymar and his father in relation to the player’s 2013 transfer to Barcelona.
However, the judge said that irregularities in the high-profile transfer were detected, but it was an issue for a civil court, not a criminal court to settle.
The case was brought by the Brazilian investment fund DIS, former owners of the rights of the player, now 24 and who moved to the Camp Nou from Santos in his homeland.
DIS, which held 40 percent of Neymar’s sporting rights when he played at Santos, had claimed it was cheated out of its real share of the transfer due to parallel contracts that Barcelona and Santos allegedly used to hide the true cost.
High court judge Jose de la Mata ruled that while the case “could have sporting, ethical and disciplinary repercussions”, it “cannot be pursued in the criminal courts”, the court said in a statement.
Neymar and his father, who acts as his agent, and Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu and his predecessor Sandro Rosell all denied any wrongdoing when they appeared in court in February.
Public prosecutors plan to appeal the judge’s decision to shelve the case, a judicial source said.
The ruling comes lass than a month after Barcelona accepted to pay a 5.5-million-euro fine over the contested transfer in a deal with prosecutors that allowed the club to avoid trial on tax evasion charges, in a separate case related to the transfer.
The agreement freed up Bartomeu and Rosell from possible criminal proceedings that could have seen them jailed.
Barcelona had originally published the fee in the transfer as €57.1 million, with 40 million of that given to the player’s family.
But Spanish authorities believe the true transfer figure was at least €83 million.
Santos — the Brazilian club of a young Pele and where Neymar started his career — received 17.1 million, 6.8 million euros of which went to DIS.
But Spanish judicial authorities believe another €26 million from the parallel contracts were shared between Neymar, his family and Santos, with the DIS and the taxman missing out on their cuts.
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