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Barcelona Accuse Josep Bartomeu’s Board Of “Serious Criminal Behaviour”

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Barcelona’s previous board showed “very serious criminal conduct,” a lawyer hired by the club said on Tuesday at the presentation of his “forensic report” on Barca’s financial management under Josep Maria Bartomeu. Bartomeu’s successor in the presidency, Joan Laporta, also said that “payments without cause, payments with false cause or disproportionate payments” were found. Laporta added that “it cannot be ruled out that there is an unfair reward for those responsible for these payments.” The report’s findings prompted the club to file a complaint last week with the Barcelona prosecutor’s office, which opened an investigation into “economic crimes” on Friday, a source told AFP.

Barcelona’s report, by financial investigations firm Kroll, was launched after the club’s CEO Ferran Reverter announced the results of an internal audit in October.

Reverter said the club was “technically bankrupt” when Laporta became president in March 2021, with the audit uncovering total club debts of 1.35 billion euros ($1.52 billion).

The report was presented at the Camp Nou offices on Tuesday morning by Laporta, Eduard Romeu, Barcelona’s economic vice president, and Jaume Campaner, a company lawyer hired to work on the investigation.

Campaner said: “It’s not about pointing fingers or qualifying the management of the previous board as better or worse, it’s not about that.

“It is about transferring information to the authorities that investigate crimes and repress this type of behavior, which is a very serious criminal behavior.”

Campaner continued: “If I had to define it all in one word it would be: disloyalty. Because it is money from the members of FC Barcelona. That money cannot be abused or given away as if it were yours.”

“False Accounting”

Campaner listed a series of alleged irregularities found in the report, including the payment of seven million euros to lawyers for the “alleged signing of a player”, commissions paid to agents that were inflated from five to 33 percent and a payment of 15 million euros. to a club to secure the first rejection of young players, which Campaner said had “no basis in reality”.

“The legal word for this is false accounting,” Campaner concluded.

Bartomeu has defended his stage as president, rejecting the figures presented by the current board while blaming the losses on the crisis caused by the pandemic.

“Our management was serious and responsible,” Bartomeu said in an interview with Barcelona newspaper Mundo Deportivo in October.

Laporta said on Tuesday that he was still “open to dialogue” with Bartomeu. He said the club’s wage bill had been reduced by €159m under the current board.

Barcelona failed to secure a departure for Ousmane Dembele in the January transfer window, which closed on Monday night, and Dembele can now leave for free when his contract expires in the summer.

Ferran Torres joined earlier this month from Manchester City for €55m, while Laporta said the signing of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on a free transfer from Arsenal should be completed this week.

Bartomeu appeared in court in March and was released pending corruption charges, after police raided five locations in Barcelona, ​​including the Camp Nou offices.

More than 200,000 Barcelona members had signed a petition calling for Bartomeu to be removed as president, but Bartomeu resigned in October 2020, before a vote of no confidence could be taken.

He publicly fell out with Lionel Messi, who left last summer and joined Paris Saint-Germain when the club couldn’t afford to extend his contract.

The team suffered a dramatic decline on the field and is still recovering. Barca sit fifth in La Liga and failed to qualify for this season’s Champions League round of 16.

Bartomeu also oversaw numerous political controversies, including the ‘Barcagate’ scandal, in which a company was allegedly hired to smear opponents of the junta on social media, with the likes of Messi, Gerard Pique and current coach Xavi Hernandez among them. the objectives.

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