Madrid (AFP) – Former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell will remain in prison whilst being investigated for money laundering related to the sale of the Brazilian national football team’s television rights after being denied bail on Thursday.
After hearing Rosell’s testimony before Spain’s National Court on Thursday, Judge Carmen Lamela Diaz considered, in a decision made public by the court, that Rosell posed a flight risk, could destroy evidence and posed a risk of reoffending if granted bail, in a decision made public by the court.
Rosell, 53, was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion that he and former head of the Brazilian football federation (CBF), Ricardo Teixeira, who is not part of the investigation, siphoned off 15 million euros ($16.8 million) in illegal commissions from TV rights deals.
Rosell, his wife and three other accomplices who were also arrested on Tuesday, are accused of mounting a criminal organisation that “laundered money from illicit commissions” derived by Teixeira selling the rights to Brazil’s matches.
One of the other accused Joan Besoli was also denied bail, however both men can appeal the decision.
The investigation is centred on a contract signed in 2006 to hand over the rights to 24 Brazil friendly matches to a company based in the Cayman Islands but tied to Saudi group Dallah Albaraka.
The contract states that whoever bought the rights would have to pay into funds controlled by Rosell and Teixeira.
In the court filing the judge suspects that Rosell received 6.58 million euros and Teixeira 8.393 million euros “without the knowledge of the CBF and to its detriment.”
The money was then transferred via a complex web of accounts to Andorra, a tiny principality wedged between Spain and France that used to be considered a tax haven.
Teixeira, a former FIFA vice-president, has been indicted by US Justice Department prosecutors investigating the FIFA corruption scandal.
Rosell resigned as Barcelona president in 2014 over the murky transfer dealings that brought Brazilian striker Neymar to the club from Santos.
He was later cleared of all charges in connection with an alleged tax fraud case over the transfer following an agreement with prosecutors.
Rosell will nevertheless be tried for fraud and corruption relating to a parallel complaint filed by Brazilian investment company DIS, which owned 40 percent of Neymar’s sporting rights at the time of his transfer.
DIS claim it was cheated out of its real share because part of the transfer fee was concealed by Barcelona, Santos and the Neymar family.
A Spanish court earlier this month ordered Neymar and his parents to stand trial for alleged “business corruption” over the affair, making him the latest star from the Catalan club to have to take the stand.
Five-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi’s appeal against a 21-month suspended jail sentences for tax fraud relating to his image rights was rejected on Wednesday.
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