Neymar faces a five-year prison sentence in the corruption and fraud trial

Brazil striker Neymar faces court next week on fraud and corruption charges over his transfer from Santos to Barcelona in 2013, and the complainant, Brazilian investment firm DIS, said on Thursday it was seeking a five-year prison sentence.

Besides Neymar, the accused in the trial brought by Spanish prosecutors, which starts in Barcelona on Monday, are his parents, the two clubs, former Barca presidents Josep Maria Bartomeu and Sandro Rosell and ex-Santos president Odilio Rodrigues.

The case stems from a complaint from DIS, which owned 40% of the rights to Neymar when he was at Santos. The company argues that it lost its rightful cut in the transfer because the true value of the deal was underestimated.

Neymar, a key member of the Brazil team set to travel to Qatar for the World Cup next month, has denied the allegations but lost an appeal in Spain’s Supreme Court in 2017, paving the way for the trial.

Baker McKenzie, who will defend Neymar and his family in the trial, told Reuters they will argue that the Spanish courts “do not have jurisdiction to prosecute the Neymar family” since the transfer involved Brazilian nationals in Brazil.

Spanish prosecutors want Neymar to be jailed for two years and pay a €10m ($9.78m) fine, and Rosell to be jailed for five years and Barcelona to be fined €8.4m.

Paris St Germain’s Neymar celebrates scoring his first goal. (PSG)

The DIS is also seeking prison terms for Rosell and Bartomeu and a total fine of 149 million euros for the accused.

Rosell has previously denied any wrongdoing. Its representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

Barcelona and lawyers representing Bartomeu declined to comment on the case. Santos did not immediately respond to a request for comment and Rodrigues was not immediately available.

MARKET VALUE

DIS acquired 40% of Neymar’s rights at the age of 17 for two million euros. It is argued that the player’s sale to Barcelona was way below his true market value.

Barca said at the time of Neymar’s move that the transfer fee was €57.1m, of which €40m was paid to Neymar’s family.

DIS received a 40 percent share of the remaining 17.1 million paid to Santos.

“Neymar’s rights were not sold to the highest bidder. There were clubs that offered up to 60 million euros,” said DIS lawyer Paulo Nasser at a press conference in Barcelona on Thursday.

Neymar’s lawyers argue that the competition rules relate to products and services and not the transfer market.

“The rules of free competition do not apply as moving from one club to another depends on the free will of the player,” a spokesman for Baker McKenzie told Reuters.

“The player is not a service or a commodity. He’s a person of his own free will,” he added, saying Santos gave Neymar written permission to negotiate with other clubs in 2011.

The court in Barcelona, ​​​​where the trial will take place, said Neymar must appear in person for the first day on Monday, but it is unclear if he will be asked to stay for the full hearing, which could last two weeks .

Neymar, his parents, Rosell and Bartomeu will start their testimony next Friday.



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