Barcelona president Bartomeu and Rosell indicted over Neymar case

MADRID -- A Spanish judge has indicted Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu and his predecessor Sandro Rosell for tax fraud and fraudulent administration in a probe focusing on the signing of Neymar.

Investigative magistrate Pablo Ruz accused the club and its management of fabricating a labyrinth of contracts to hide the real cost of signing the Brazil international in 2013.

The judge said Neymar cost at least €83.3 million, while Barcelona insist they paid €57 million. The lower figure would also lower Barcelona's tax burden.

A court statement said its investigation indicated that the alleged web of contracts included seven that were signed between Barcelona and companies owned by Neymar's father and agent, also named Neymar Da Silva Santos.

"These seven contracts were designed with different ends, but taken together they were used to cover up or hide the higher cost of the player's transfer for FCB," the court statement said. "All of them also had the goal of eluding or lowering payments to the Tax Office in a surreptitious manner."

Barcelona denied that "a criminal offense has been committed" and said in a statement on the club's official website that they would appeal Ruz's decision once they receive formal notification of his ruling.

No trial date has been set.

Bartomeu took over when Rosell resigned in January 2014 after being named a suspect in the case and investigated for misappropriating funds to hide the transfer cost.

This is not the only legal case involving Barcelona.

Star forward Lionel Messi and his father are also being investigated for allegedly defrauding Spain's Tax Office of €4 million in unpaid taxes from 2007-09.

The club has also been banned from making transfers during 2015 after FIFA said it had broken rules regarding the signing of youth players.

In January, Bartomeu relented to pressure following Barcelona's failure to overturn FIFA's ban by calling for early club elections this summer, cutting the board's mandate short by one year. Bartomeu has said he will run for a second term.