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The reason for the payments, the money trail and the possible manipulation: the doubts and certainties of the 'Negreira case'


The statements by Gaspart and Laporta and the patrimonial investigation of the surroundings of the former arbitration leader can shed light on the case

Silvia López, a veteran examining magistrate from Barcelona, ​​faces the challenge of finding out the truth of the

Negreira case.

Upon assuming the investigation, on March 14, she raised a scenario that points to the past and the future, the origin of the payments and the destination that was given to the money.

Everything refers, in reality, to the same question: why did FC Barcelona pay 7.3 million euros over 17 years and under four presidents to the man who, during all that time, served as vice president of the Arbitration Technical Committee ?

The investigation opened by UEFA against the club and the lack of public explanations by Joan Laporta increase the need for criminal proceedings to help clarify doubts.

Fixing, a hypothesis to be tested.

Whether Barça will face criminal consequences if there is a conviction depends, in part, on how this mystery is resolved: the payment of a fine and, in the worst case scenario —an unlikely scenario due to the many requirements demanded by the Penal Code— , a temporary suspension of its activity.

The top managers of the club are also at stake or, at least, Sandro Rosell (2011-2014) and Josep Maria Bartomeu (2014-2020), who have the status of being investigated for three crimes: corruption in the sports field, unfair administration and documentary falsehood.

The Prosecutor's Office has a hypothesis and has embodied it in the complaint that has given rise to the judicial instruction: it suspects that Barça paid so that José María Enríquez Negreira, as number two of the referees' governing body, would influence them so that they will end up benefiting the club in their decisions.

The club, in short, intended to rig the competition, which could entail a crime of corruption in sport.

The Supreme Court has just said, as a result of the

Osasuna case,

that this is a crime of mere activity;

In other words, for there to be a conviction, it is enough to prove that the intention of the club was manipulation, regardless of whether specific payments or favorable treatment to members with names and surnames can be demonstrated.

The horizon of an investigation that begins.

The hypothesis does not sail on nothing: it is the result of nine months of investigation in which the Prosecutor's Office has consulted abundant documentation —especially, from the Tax Agency— and has taken statements from witnesses and those investigated.

But it is still a hypothesis that must be confirmed throughout a judicial investigation that has just begun and that will now have more tools to reach a valid conclusion.

And after which there will be two paths: if the judge does not see sufficient evidence of crime, she will close the case;

otherwise, and if requested by the parties, she will order the case to go to trial.

The judge has entrusted the case to the judicial police unit of the Civil Guard of Catalonia.

And she has given him wide sleeve to act.

She orders them to carry out "the necessary investigative procedures to determine the reason or work for which the payments were made," as well as "the destination charged by said companies."

López also wants to know the names and surnames of those who held the positions of "general director, CEO, executive director, financial director, treasurer or head of the economic area" between 2011 and 2014. For now, the only two managers investigated are the former CEO Òscar Grau and the former head of professional sports Albert Soler, both from the Bartomeu period.

The Civil Guard has to examine the thousands of pages that make up the investigation of the Prosecutor's Office and trace its own path.

This work can take weeks or months.

Once he is on track, the judge intends to call all the witnesses and investigators that are necessary to testify and, in particular, those who have already been requested by the Prosecutor's Office.

Among them, the former presidents Joan Gaspart (2001-2003) and Joan Laporta (2003-2010).

If they have not been called under investigation, it is because the alleged crimes that occurred under their mandate would have prescribed.

Certainties and doubts about the reason for the payments.

To date, no evidence has been found to prove that Barça had the intention of rigging the state championships (Enríquez Negreira had no presence in European football organizations).

What has been proven, for now, is that two Negreira companies (Dasnil and Nilsad) received 7.3 million from the club;

Although the amount varies according to the stages, it represents an annual average of more than 400,000 euros.

There is a paper trail of invoices up to 2001, which does not mean that payments did not begin earlier.

What's more, sources of the investigation are convinced that everything began in the period of Josep Lluís Núñez as president.

The only clue about the reason for the payments was given by Negreira himself in his statement before the Tax Agency.

He said that Barça felt harmed by arbitrations against other teams (he did not mention any in particular) and that he wanted to ensure a "neutral" behavior.

Subjected to an inspection, the former referee went so far as to explain that he was offering verbal advice to Barça, but no one was able to find anything similar to a contract for the provision of services.

In the end, Barça recognized that the works did not exist by signing an act of conformity with the Treasury by which they accepted that VAT and corporate tax could not be deducted.

If it is clear that the invoices for "technical video advice" do not correspond to reality, why was Negreira paid?

"No one has explained the reason" for the payments, concluded the Police, who suspect that they are due to reasons that are not confessable that, despite everything, have not been able to be clarified.

The statements by Gaspart and Laporta, forced to tell the truth and answer all the parties in the process, could shed light.

The other person who can do it, Negreira, will argue that he suffers from Alzheimer's and that he is not in a position to face criminal proceedings.

Follow the trail of money and wealth.

About the destination given to money, there are also some certainties.

For example, that a good part of the 7.3 million was withdrawn by Negreira or his collaborators (a friend, his secretary) in cash "through refunds or bearer checks."

At least between 2016 and 2018, it accounted for a third of the total that he received from the club.

These constant withdrawals (some, for an amount of up to 150,000 euros) make investigators suspect that they could be used to opaquely pay referees.

Those who withdrew the money explained that they only gave it to him and Negreira has also said that he never paid anyone.

For now, the investigation has not been able to go any further, nor has any arbitrator appeared to say that he on some occasion received payments or favors of another type from the former vice president of the CTA.

It is also striking that, despite Barça's generous salary, "no increase in assets is appreciated" in Negreira, according to the Police, who proposed as a line to continue advancing (and this is also maintained by the Prosecutor's Office) "to carry out an investigation of Enríquez's assets and from your environment (your current partner, among others)” to check if you have used the money to buy flats or cars, or on trips or other expenses.

If none of that has happened, there are only two scenarios left.

The first is that the former arbitration leader – whom his close entourage describes as a

bon vivant

who did not deprive himself of anything – has spent everything.

The second is that this money "would have been given to third parties related to him."

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Source: elparis

All sports articles on 2023-03-24

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