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Neymar trial wraps up in Spain after prosecutors drop charges

Brazilian superstar Neymar’s trial in Spain over his transfer to Barcelona in 2013 is expected to wrap up Monday after Spanish prosecutors last week dropped their fraud charges against the player.

The 30-year-old and the eight other defendants – including his parents who manage his affairs and two former Barca presidents – will be allowed to make closing arguments to the Barcelona court.

Neymar, who now plays for Paris Saint-Germain who on Wednesday face Juventus in the Champions League, and his parents have been granted permission by the court to testify via videoconference.

Spanish prosecutors had been seeking a two-year prison term and a fine of 10 million euros ($9.9 million) for Neymar, a key member of the Brazil team that will be heading to the World Cup in Qatar in November.

But in a surprise move, the state prosecutor withdrew all criminal charges against Neymar and the rest of the accused, arguing there was not enough evidence presented in court that a crime had been committed.

The trial is continuing however because Brazilian investment company DIS, which jointly brought the case, has maintained its accusation that the parties committed fraud and corruption.

The case centres on Neymar’s high-profile transfer from Santos, the Brazilian club where he rose to global prominence, to Barcelona nearly a decade ago.

DIS, owned by the founders of a supermarket chain, had a 40 percent stake in Neymar’s sporting rights at the time of his move to Europe.

In a 2015 complaint filed by DIS in Spain, the firm claims that Neymar, Barcelona and the Brazilian club colluded to mask the true cost of his transfer thereby defrauding it of its legitimate financial interests. 

Barca said the transfer was valued at 57.1 million euros, with 40 million euros paid to a company called N&N which manages Neymar’s affairs and 17.1 million to Santos, of which 6.8 million was given to DIS.

Spanish prosecutors have said they believe the actual value was at least 83 million euros.

DIS is seeking to recover 35 million euros.

Neymar told the court on the second day of his trial on October 18 that he did not remember if he took part in the negotiations over his transfer to Barca, and that he only signed documents presented to him by his father.

“My father has always been in charge,” he said in court. “I sign what he tells me to.”

All of the other defendants, including former Barca presidents Josep Maria Bartomeu and Sandro Rosell, also deny any wrongdoing.

State prosecutor Luis Garcia suggested that the proper forum for the claims made by DIS was a civil court, which deals with disputes between people or organisations.

“DIS has the right to feel that Neymar’s transfer should have given greater profit, but I think it has picked the wrong jurisdiction,” he told the court on Friday when he announced he was dropping charges.

The court is expected to give its ruling in several weeks.

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