Sao Paulo | Barcelona and Brazil’s star striker Neymar suffered a fresh legal blow when Brazilian prosecutors filed a tax fraud and forgery case against him.
The 23-year-old and his family have denied any wrongdoing over alleged irregularities in his superstar signing for Barcelona in 2013.
But hours after he gave testimony in Spain in one case, a new front opened up as federal prosecutors in Brazil launched proceedings against him and his father.
Investigators in both countries suspect Neymar’s family and the club hid the real value of the deal under which Barcelona signed him from Brazilian side Santos.
Barcelona valued the transfer at about 57 million euros ($62 million), but Spanish authorities think it added up to more than 83 million euros.
Brazil’s federal prosecution service accused the player, Neymar da Silva Santos Junior, and his father of forging contracts to pay less tax.
It made the same accusations against his father and two senior FC Barcelona management figures: the club’s current president Josep Maria Bartomeu and his predecessor Sandro Rosell.
A federal court must now decide whether to admit the charges and put them on trial.
Last September, Brazilian authorities froze $47 million worth of the player’s assets pending investigations.
The federal prosecution service said in a statement the charges related to tax evasion and forgery, which cost the state millions in lost taxes.
Wearing jeans and sunglasses, Neymar seemed relaxed as he arrived at Spain’s National Court in Madrid with his father Neymar da Silva Santos, who was also called to testify before an investigating judge. The player signed an autograph in front of a group of photographers before giving the thumbs-up and entering court, where he stayed an hour and a half. He made no comment when he left, but took a multitude of selfies with young supporters.
Neymar and his father have defended themselves in the media.
“Before saying nonsense — that we hid this, or hid that — they should prove it,” Neymar told Brazilian TV station Globo on Sunday. “My father is doing everything to ensure that I can just focus on playing football. He handles the books. But in the moment when you see someone you love suffering, it starts to hurt,’ he added.
Bartomeu and Rosell refused to testify when called this week, insisting on the account they had given for a previous hearing.
A representative of Santos told the judge on Monday the club had felt cheated by Neymar and his father after details of the transfer emerged.
Subscribe to our email newsletter.