Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu questioned in Spanish court over Neymar's transfer

Associated Press

Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu was questioned by a National Court judge for more than three hours on Friday, as a suspect in a tax fraud probe linked to the signing of striker Neymar.

Bartomeu emerged from the court in Madrid accompanied by a legal representative, while dozens of press reporters and photographers lined the street to get a glimpse. The club president declined to comment on his appearance in court.

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The citation arises from a request by State Prosecutor Jose Perals that Judge Pablo Ruz investigate Bartomeu and the club over an alleged fraud committed in the signing of Neymar.

Perals submitted his request to Ruz based on a tax official's audit of Barcelona's accounts that appeared to show the club failed to pay the correct amount of taxes on the deal.

Ruz is trying to determine whether Bartomeu, as club president, defrauded Spain's Tax Office of 2.8 million euros ($3.2 million).

Barcelona has lodged 13.5 million euros with the tax office, and hopes the case will be settled out of court.

Neymar's transfer fee has been under scrutiny since his presentation at the Camp Nou on June 3, 2013.

When he was named a suspect in the case, on Feb. 4, Bartomeu blamed Real Madrid and the Spanish state. He said, "All this comes from someone who did not want (Neymar) to come to Barca."