Spain prosecutor calls for trial and jail for Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu

MADRID -- Spain's prosecutor has requested the National Court open a trial against Barcelona, the club's current president Josep Bartomeu and his predecessor Sandro Rosell for alleged tax evasion, including in the signing of Brazil striker Neymar.

In a statement released Monday, the prosecutor calls for jail terms of more than two years for Bartomeu and over seven years for Rosell, as well as the imposition of large fines.

The prosecutor calls for club to be fined €22,202,750 ($24 million) for allegedly false accounting in the tax returns of 2011, 2013 and 2014.

Investigating judge Pablo Ruz had on March 13 named Bartomeu and Rosell in a tax fraud and fraudulent administration probe into the signing of the 2013 signing of the Brazil star, alleging the club and its management fabricated a labyrinth of contracts to conceal the real cost of the signing.

The judge said Neymar cost at least €83.3 million, while Barcelona say 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 offence 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.