The investigation into the summer signing of Neymar by Barcelona from Brazilian side Santos will continue, a judge revealed on Wednesday.
Barca bought Neymar for a fee of 57.1 million euros in May of last year, but only 17.1 million of that went to Santos, with third-party owners believed to have claimed the rest.
However, supermarket chain DIS say they never received their share and Barca has since admitted paying the 40 million euros to the company co-owned by Neymar and his father, N&N.
Blaugrana president Sandro Rosell claimed on Monday that Barcelona has "nothing to hide" over the transfer, but the Catalan club has been unable to fully explain the 40 million euro payment, and a Spanish prosecutor has now requested further documents from current Liga leaders after claims last week that the player's contract may be 'fake'.
Barca moved quickly to deny that, but prosecutors remain unconvinced by the documentation facilitated by the Catalan club and the investigation is set to continue in court. "There are sufficient grounds to carry on with the investigation," judge Pablo Ruz said on Wednesday.
So as the case continues, Goal looks at the ins and outs of the saga, plus the possible ramifications for Rosell.
The complaint was lodged against Rosell by Barcelona fan and socio Jordi Cases last month, alleging misappropriation of funds and a lack of transparency over the 40 million euros allegedly paid to the company owned by Neymar and his father.
Cases, a lifelong fan of the Catalan club, has criticized some of the side's other initiatives in recent times, such as the shirt sponsorship deal with Qatar Airways. Cases says he and other socios have a right to know how the money was spent, but claims he would not have pursued the case had he received a civil answer from Barcelona in the first place. "If they had told me there was no [specific] concept for that money, but that otherwise he wouldn't have joined, that would have been enough," he told reporters recently. "I would still think they were lying, but I just wanted a response."
And when no response was forthcoming, Cases decided to take his complaint to court.
Barcelona, Neymar and the company N&N signed a contract in Sao Paulo in 2011 with a view to the forward moving to the Catalan club in 2014, when the player's contract was due to expire.
Included was payment of 10 million euros as a loan, to be repaid when the player moved to Barca - as stipulated in the agreement. In addition, the two parties fixed a price for Neymar's playing rights at 40 million euros (which was to include the 10 million euro loan). A penalty clause of 40 million euros for breach of contract was also written into the accord.
However, the two teams ultimately agreed to bring the deal forward a year and Neymar transferred to Camp Nou in the summer of 2013. Barca agreed to specific conditions with Santos and recognized that the previous contract could not now be fulfilled. The Catalan club therefore was forced to pay the 40 million euro penalty clause.
That is seen as suspicious by the judge and the prosecutor, who are now investigating whether the transfer went through not under a conventional agreement, but through a penalty clause instead. They also suspect that the 10 million euro loan was paid as a guarantee of a future contract, something all but admitted by Barca in Neymar's unveiling in May, but which is against FIFA rules.
Due to the mismatch between the concepts outlined in the contracts (of which it has been claimed there were as many as 12 different ones), both issues could indicate contractual simulation.
So far, Barcelona has presented all of Neymar's contracts to the judge, as well as proof of the payments made in the signing of the Brazilian forward, plus financial documents for 2011, 2012 and 2013.
However, the judge and the prosecutors have requested further paperwork in order to carry out their investigation, including FIFA documentation concerning the player's transfer from Santos to Barcelona, as well as Neymar's contract with N&N that stipulated he would cede his playing rights to the company when his Santos agreement ended.
Investigators also want to see his contract with Santos and the Brazilian side's paperwork in the transfer, auditing forms from the Catalan club, independent information on the deal from finance company Deloitte and, finally, the contracts for first option on three Santos players (for which Barca paid 7.9 million euros) and the two friendly matches between the sides (upon which the Catalan club spent an additional 9 million euros) - both separately from the transfer itself.
Rosell is accused of misappropriation of funds, an offense outlined in Article 252 of the Penal Code in Spain. The crime, if proved, can lead to imprisonment for anywhere between one and eight years.
The Barca president has shown his willingness to give evidence. He said in a press conference on Monday: "I would ask the judge to accept the complaint and to call me to testify."
However, judge Pablo Ruz sees no need to call upon Rosell at this stage of the investigation, preferring to analyze the above-mentioned documents instead. If these prove unsatisfactory or inconclusive, though, the Barca president may be asked to testify at a later date.