Court moves forward with probe into Neymar’s transfer

MADRID (AP) Spain’s national court has rejected Neymar’s request to throw out a probe into alleged irregularities involving his transfer to Barcelona two years ago.

The court announced Wednesday it will look into a complaint made by a Brazilian investment group which claims it was financially harmed when Barcelona and Neymar allegedly withheld the real amount of the player’s transfer fee from Brazilian club Santos in 2013.

The complaint made in June by investment group DIS names Neymar, his father and Barcelona as defendants, along with former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell and current president Josep Bartomeu.

Santos and its current and former presidents also were named in the case.

Rosell, Bartomeu and Barcelona all joined Neymar and his father in the appeal filed in the Madrid court.

However, the court dismissed the appeal, saying there were indications of illegal acts by the involved parties in an attempt to disguise the total amount that was paid to the Brazilian club.

The Brazilian investment group was entitled to 40 percent of Neymar’s transfer from Santos, but it claims it received smaller compensation than it should have received because part of the transfer fee was concealed.

Santos officially received a payment of 17.1 million euros ($18.9 million) for Neymar’s transfer, but investigations in Spain later showed that Barcelona spent nearly 83.3 million euros ($92 million) to acquire the Brazilian.

A separate court in Madrid is hearing a similar lawsuit against Rosell because of Neymar’s transfer fee. Rosell resigned from Barcelona because of the allegations.

FIFA recently said it was also analyzing a complaint related to the transfer. Santos claimed that Neymar and his father broke the terms of the player’s contract by starting negotiations with Barcelona without the Brazilian club’s consent.

The 23-year-old Neymar has also encountered problems with Brazil’s tax office, which earlier this year froze assets related to the player valued at about 189 million Brazilian reals ($48 million) because of allegations of tax evasion.

Neymar’s case isn’t the only legal problem affecting Barcelona in Spain.

Lionel Messi and his father will stand trial on three counts of tax fraud and could be sentenced to nearly two years in prison if found guilty, and Spain’s tax office is also investigating midfielder Javier Mascherano over taxes paid in 2011 and 2012. All three deny any wrongdoing.

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