Spanish investigators on Friday dropped a fraud and corruption case against Brazilian superstar Neymar and his father in relation to the player’s 2013 transfer to Barcelona.
The case had been brought by the Brazilian investment fund DIS, former owners of the rights of the player, now 24 and who moved to the Camp Nou from Santos in his homeland three years ago.
A judge ruled that the case “could have sporting, ethical and disciplinary repercussions” but said it “cannot be pursued in the criminal courts”, according to a statement by Spain’s High Court.
DIS, which held 40% of Neymar’s sporting rights when he played at Santos, had claimed it was cheated out of its real share of the transfer due to parallel contracts that Barcelona and Santos allegedly used to hide the true cost.
The ruling comes less than a month after Barcelona accepted to pay a 5.5-million-euro ($6.2 million) fine over the contested transfer in a deal with prosecutors that allowed the club to avoid trial on tax evasion charges.
The agreement freed up Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu and his predecessor Sandro Rosell from possible criminal proceedings that could have seen them jailed.
Barcelona had originally published the fee in the shady transfer as 57.1 million euros, with 40 million euros of that given to the player’s family.
But Spanish authorities believe the true transfer figure was at least 83 million euros.
Santos -- where Neymar started his career -- received 17.1 million, 6.8 million euros of which went to DIS.
But Spanish judicial authorities believe another 26 million euros from the parallel contracts were shared between Neymar, his family and Santos, with DIS and the taxman missing out on their cuts.
Barcelona had already made a voluntary 13.5 million euros tax payment after being indicted for alleged tax fraud.