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Tax-fraud charge against Barcelona

Madrid: Barcelona have been charged by a Spanish court with committing tax fraud in the signing of Brazil forward Neymar last year in the latest twist to a saga that has already claimed the scalp of one club president.

Neymar’s move to Barcelona from Santos in the close season was initially shrouded in mystery and it was unclear what exactly was paid to whom and when.

After president Sandro Rosell stepped down last month, Barca admitted Neymar had cost 86.2 million euros ($118.6 million), including payments to the player and his family, and not 57.1 million as they originally said.

“Judge Pablo Ruz has charged FC Barcelona with an infringement against the tax authority relating to the purchase of the Brazilian player (Neymar),” a spokesman for the Madrid court hearing the case said on Thursday.

The judge had requested Barca’s tax records relating to the Neymar deal and had asked the tax authority to calculate the scale of the alleged fraud. A company owned by Neymar received 40 million euros ($55 million) when the transfer took place for a fee the Spanish club has since reported to be 86.2 million euros.

Santos’ share was 17.1 million euros, prompting the club’s fans and officials to question the deal.

Over the transfer deal, Neymar said: “I am sick and tired of this... I’ve had enough of all this talk.”