The Prosecutor’s Office will denounce FC Barcelona for continued corruption in sports due to payments to Negreira | Sports| The USA Print

Josep Maria Bartomeu, as president of FC Barcelona in a file image.

Josep Maria Bartomeu, as president of FC Barcelona in a file image.Josep Lago (AFP)

The complaint that the Prosecutor’s Office is about to present before the courts for the millionaire payments from Barça to the former arbitration leader José María Enríquez Negreira is directed, among others, against FC Barcelona as a legal entity, as confirmed to EL PAÍS by judicial sources. The Prosecutor’s Office will accuse the Barça club of business corruption, a crime that came into force with the 2010 penal reform and that includes fraud in the field. The crime is contemplated in its continuous modality, which implies a greater severity of the penalties. After almost a year of investigation, the complaint also targets the former president of the entity Josep Maria Bartomeu, members of its management team responsible for payments and Negreira, who until 2018 received, through a company, almost seven million euros from Barça for alleged verbal advice whose veracity is in question.

The investigation of the Prosecutor’s Office, which began in May 2022 for alleged fiscal irregularities committed by Negreira’s company, was closed hastily a few weeks ago. The complaint filed by a VAR referee before the courts forced – as established by law – to cease the investigative proceedings, which were already very advanced although they have not managed to clear up the central unknown of this story: why Barça disbursed huge sums of money to pay the then vice president of the Technical Committee of Referees (CTA). In his statement to the Tax Agency, the former referee said the club paid him because he wanted “neutral” arbitrations and “make sure no decisions were made against him” during matches. When he was called to testify before the Prosecutor’s Office, however, he accepted his right not to testify on the grounds that he suffers from Alzheimer’s.

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The complaint contains the conclusions reached by the agents of the National Police Corps during the investigation, which will now be handed over to a judge in Barcelona. FC Barcelona will be denounced, as a legal person, for a crime of corruption in business, according to what the same sources have detailed to this newspaper. The Prosecutor’s Office contemplates that the crime be in its continuous modality (since 2010) since the payments occurred, uninterruptedly, at least from 2001 and until July 2018, when Bartomeu’s team put an end to these practices. The end of the relationship with the protests of Negreira, who threatened to charge against “all the presidents” of Barça who had kept this alleged commercial relationship alive: Joan Gaspart (2000-2003), Joan Laporta (2003-2010), Sandro Rosell (2010-2014) and Bartomeu (2014-2020). Negreira’s company, Dasnil, saw its income plummet since then: Barça was practically its only client and its reason for being.

The prosecution considers that there are indications of a crime of corruption in the businesses committed by the club due to the fact of having paid almost seven million to Negreira during the time in which he was vice president of the Technical Arbitration Committee (CTA), the governing body of the club. collective. Although the CTA does not decide which referee directs each match, it does have the power to decide on the promotion and relegation of the referees. The investigation focuses on the sums of money that the former arbitration leader withdrew, in cash, from banking entities. The final destination of that money is unknown; It has not been found, for example, that his or any other real estate assets have increased significantly. Barça also paid other amounts to the son of the former referee, Javier Enríquez, for arbitration reports of which there is documentary evidence. Payments were made through a company belonging to the former director of the club Josep Contreras (now deceased) who in return received commissions of up to 50% of what was paid to the coach sports.

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The crime of corruption in business – the name corruption between individuals, from 2010, was modified in 2015 – provides for a penalty of between six months and four years in prison, as well as disqualification and the payment of a fine. The article contains a section (286.4) that clearly alludes to sports competitions, and that punishes “managers, administrators, employees or collaborators of a sports entity” (in this case, Barça) and also “athletes , referees or judges” (Negreira) who intend to “deliberately and fraudulently predetermine or alter the result of a test, meeting or sports competition of special economic or sports relevance”.

Bartomeu yes, other presidents no

The investigation has proven payments since 2001, although everything indicates that the operation began in the 1990s, during the presidency of the late Josep Lluís Núñez. The crime attributed to the club, however, can only be extended until a maximum of 2010 because, previously, the Penal Code did not contemplate it. FC Barcelona was already convicted, as a legal entity, in 2016, assuming that it had committed two tax crimes in the signing of Neymar and accepting payment of a fine of 5.5 million.

The complaint also includes natural persons, above all Bartomeu, as well as members of his management team; Among them, according to sources from the prosecution, the former executive director, Óscar Grau. All of them will be attributed, in addition to the crime of corruption in business, a crime of unfair administration, for having allegedly used money from partners with illegitimate fines. There is the paradox that, although it was that team that broke the deal with Negreira, it is the one that will assume the criminal consequences of the case. Beginning in the Núñez (or Gaspart) stage, the successive boards of directors of the club maintained the disbursements. The current president, Joan Laporta, came to increase the importance of it notably, as this newspaper advanced, during his first stage at the head of the entity. None of these presidents, however, will face how to investigate the criminal case, since the facts are old and are already prescribed, the same sources specify.

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After the presentation of the complaint, to which the final touches are being given and which will foreseeably be formalized this Wednesday, a court in Barcelona must decide whether to admit it for processing. This is what happens in practice on all occasions when the complaint comes from the public prosecutor. One of the options is for the matter to fall on the head of the Barcelona trial court number 1, Joaquín Aguirre, who has already opened proceedings for the complaint filed by the VAR referee Estrada Fernández. The complaint, however, is directed only against the Negreiras (father and son) and has not yet been admitted for processing.

Consulted about the imminent complaint by the Prosecutor’s Office, UEFA moved through a statement that it has “no comment to make.” Both UEFA and FIFA include, in their disciplinary codes, articles that penalize these practices regardless of the fact that state regulations (the Sports Law) cannot intervene, since the limitation period for very serious offenses is three years. and the last payments from Barça date back to 2018.

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