FC Barcelona have paid 13.5 million ($18.6 million) to Spanish tax authorities after being charged with fraud in the signing of Brazilian forward Neymar last year. However, the club insist they committed no tax offenses.
The Catalan club said in a statement on Monday they had paid the "complimentary" amount to cover any "eventual interpretations that could come out of the contracts signed relating to the transfer of Neymar."
Barcelona said the controversy arose due to a "possible difference of interpretation" about how much money was owed after signing Neymar from Brazilian club Santos in the 2013 summer transfer window.
Barcelona have come under increasing for their actions in the Neymar transfer. Club president Sandro Rosell stepped down last month after a club member filed a complaint accusing him of misappropriating funds. Rosell has denied any wrongdoing but said he wanted to clear his name and protect the Spanish champions' image.
Following his resignation, Rosell admitted that the Neymar transfer had cost 82.6 million euros, and not the 57.1 million that was initially reported. The extra costs include payments to Neymar and his family.
With the scandal public, a Spanish judge allowed prosecutors last week to charge the club with tax fraud, saying they cheated the state out of 9.1 million euros through payments to various companies and false contracts. The court had also sought Barcelona's tax records related to the player transfer, and asked tax authorities to determine the scale of the alleged fraud.
Barcelona hit back
Throughout the saga Barcelona have maintained their innocence. Rosell's successor, Josep Bartemeu, said last week that the club had done "everything according to the letter of the law" in the transfer of Neymar.
"Our contract with Neymar and Santos is totally legal," he told the Spanish state broadcaster. "The negotiations, the transactions, the contracts, everything was done legally and we would do it all again the exact same way."
Barcelona reaffirmed their stance on Monday that the club had done no wrongdoing, saying they had "always fulfilled" their tax obligations to the government.
"The board denies the existence of any tax related crime in relation to the fiscal obligations arising from the signing of the player," the club said.
The exact amount paid to authorities Monday was 13,550,830.56 euros, Barcelona said. It was not immediately clear, however, if the money the club paid would mean the charges against them brought by the Madrid court would be dropped.
dr/ipj (Reuters, AP)