Bartomeu “manipulated” the audit of the ‘Barçagate case’ so that it was favorable to him | Soccer | Sports

The former president of FC Barcelona Josep Maria Bartomeu “hidden and manipulated” key data from PriceWaterHouseCoopers (PWC) so that the audit on the Barçagate case would be favorable to him. In a new report delivered to the judge investigating the case, the Mossos d’Esquadra conclude that the commission, which cost the club 400,000 euros, only “pursued the personal interests” of Bartomeu and the other three directors investigated to “cover up the hiring.” irregular” to the companies of Carlos Ibáñez. The regional police consider, in a report accessed by EL PAÍS, that this disbursement may constitute a new crime of unfair administration.

He Barçagate case, which Cadena SER revealed in February 2020, investigates the allegedly irregular contracting of a series of services during Bartomeu’s mandate. The club paid large sums of money (2.3 million euros in three years) to I3 Ventures and other companies controlled by Ibáñez to, supposedly, “monitor” the club’s image through social networks. But the orders served, in reality, to defame rivals of the president – such as the audiovisual businessman Jaume Roures – and players from the Barça first team with whom he was facing. The Mossos believe that these contracts were artificially cut up and served Bartomeu’s personal interests, concerned with improving his public image and harming that of his rivals for the presidency.

When the scandal broke out, the Barça board of directors commissioned PWC to investigate these hirings, which it presented publicly a few months later, in July 2020. The objective was, among other things, to find out if what was paid to Ibáñez’s companies was adjusted to the market price. To do this, the Mossos indicate in their report, the contracts had to be compared with other equivalent ones. Well, as investigators now conclude, at least one of the three offers that Barça delivered to the multinational had been prepared by Ibáñez himself.

The Catalan police conclude that Bartomeu and the other three investigated in the case – former directors Jaume Masferrer and Óscar Grau and the head of legal services, Ramón Gómez Pontí – “intentionally manipulated the documentation” given to Price to carry out his analysis. The club, for example, delivered the company’s initial presentation to the club in 2017, duly “altered and censored as appropriate.” References that could be suspicious were removed; for example, mentions of “unofficial channels” or “JMB shielding” (Josep Maria Bartomeu). They also stole from the auditor reports that the company had prepared “to attack Barça members and people who did not consider themselves related to President Bartomeu.”

Bartomeu and the managers “consciously manipulated,” the report concludes, the data they sent to Price “to obtain a favorable report in order to make partial conclusions public at a press conference.” The multinational, according to the Mossos, could not carry out its work “objectively” and the payment for that work, of 361,000 euros plus VAT, “again damaged the club’s assets.”

This is not the first time that, within the framework of the investigation of the Barçagate case, suspicions emerge that Bartomeu tried to control and minimize its effects. The former president of Barça pressured, according to the Mossos, the head of regulatory compliance (compliance) of the club, which had initiated an internal investigation on its own. In June 2020, a few days after having informed the board of directors and the supervisory bodies of the irregularities, she was fired.

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