The prosecution requests that Joan Laporta testify before the judge for the payments to Negreira | Sports | The USA Print

The president of FC Barcelona Joan Laporta.Alejandro Garcia (EFE)

The Prosecutor’s Office requests, in its complaint against FC Barcelona for the million-dollar payments to former referee José María Enríquez Negreira, that the current president of the Barça club, Joan Laporta, testify as a witness before the judge investigating the case. As judicial sources have explained to EL PAÍS, among the investigative procedures contemplated by the public prosecutor’s office is the taking of statements, as witnesses, of all the presidents of the club under whose mandates payments were made to the number two of the referees. That includes Joan Gaspart, Joan Laporta and Sandro Rosell. The exception is Josep Maria Bartomeu: the Prosecutor’s Office requests that he be cited as being investigated, since the alleged crimes committed during his time at the helm of Barça are not prescribed.

The investigation led by the Prosecutor’s Office over the past year has proven that, from at least 2001 to July 2018, Barça paid out almost seven million euros to Negreira, who throughout that stage was vice president of the Arbitration Technical Committee (CTA). The reason for these payments is a mystery that no one has been able to clear up for now. The only clue was given by Negreira himself when he declared before the Treasury —a tax inspection was the origin of the investigation— that the club paid him to ensure “neutral” arbitrations, which would not harm him on the pitch. The investigators have not been able to prove the reality of the supposed “verbal advice” of the arbitration leader, who withdrew the money paid to his company, Dasnil, in cash.

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The complaint, which this newspaper advanced yesterday, is directed against FC Barcelona as a legal entity for a continuous crime of corruption in business, which came into force in 2010 and which includes fraud in the sports field. The Prosecutor’s Office accuses Negreira for the same crime and adds one more for Bartomeu and for the part of his management team that is also included in the complaint: unfair administration, for allegedly using money from the culé partners for illegitimate purposes. Bartomeu’s board ended payments to the former referee in July 2018, coinciding with Negreira’s departure from the Arbitration Technical Committee, although sources close to the former president assure that the decision was due to a policy of cutting expenses.

Bartomeu and his board, however, are the only ones whom the Prosecutor’s Office accuses in its complaint, since the events prior to that mandate would have prescribed. That is the reason why the statements of the presidents who preceded him in office (Gaspart, from 2000 to 2003; Laporta, from 2003 to 2010; and Rosell, from 2010 to 2014) can only be as witnesses and not of investigated. One of the essential differences between both conditions is that the witness is obliged to answer all the parties present in the process and to tell the truth, while the person being investigated can avail himself of his right not to testify or lie if it suits his defense strategy. . Laporta has publicly denied that Barça bought referees through those payments; If the complaint is successful, he must answer the questions of the Prosecutor’s Office.

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Although the documentary trail of the payments analyzed by the Prosecutor goes back to 2001, investigation sources suspect that they began earlier, during the presidency of Josep Lluís Núñez, who died in 2018. One of the clues that lead to this hypothesis is that the company through which payments were channeled, Dasnil, was created in 1995, barely a year after Negreira became the number two of the Spanish referees. Dasnil is a sole proprietorship whose sole client and raison d’être was Barça: when the club put an end to those businesses —which triggered Negreira’s threats— Dasnil’s turnover plummeted. The alleged tax irregularities of that company, which could not prove the reality of the work invoiced to Barça, led the Tax Agency to refer the case to the Prosecutor’s Office, which began its investigation in May 2022.

The presentation of a complaint, before the courts, by a VAR arbitrator forced the Prosecutor’s Office (as established by law) to end its investigative proceedings. In the next few hours, the public ministry will present the corresponding complaint against Barça, its managers and Negreira before the court. The court will have to decide whether to admit the complaint for processing (this is the case in practically all cases) and whether to accept the investigative measures requested to clarify the facts, which could lead to sanctions by FIFA or UEFA.

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