Sports

SAO PAULO (Web Desk) – Prosecutors in Brazil are recommending that football star Neymar be charged over tax fraud in relation to a case prior to his transfer to Barcelona in 2013.

It is alleged that companies were set up as fronts in order for the striker to pay a lower rate of tax.

Officials in Brazil say the allegations against the Barcelona striker cover a seven-year period from 2006, the BBC reported on Wednesday.

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The allegations are separate from a case heard in Spain on Tuesday. Neymar appeared in court in Madrid in connection with fraud allegations surrounding his transfer. He has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

The case in Brazil relates to the time when Neymar was still in Brazil and his income came from Brazilian sources.

Government prosecutors – who are recommending his prosecution on four charges of fraud – claim that companies were set up as fronts, and money that should have been taxed at the rate of a private individual was channelled into these companies and subject to a lower rate.

The prosecutors claims will go to a judge who will decide if there is a case to answer or not. At the moment Neymar is not formally a defendant.

At the time of his transfer he was a rising star at Brazilian club Santos.

His move to Barcelona FC has been a big success on the pitch. The striker became part of a goal-scoring trio with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

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In 2015, Neymar helped the club win five trophies and came third in the Fifa Ballon d’Or competition.

He also scored in the Uefa Champions League final against Juventus. But the 23-year-old has encountered legal difficulties in Brazil, where a court has frozen $47m (£33m) of his assets in connection with suspected tax evasion between 2011 and 2013.

Brazilian prosecutors are reported to have also framed fraud charges against Neymar’s father Neymar da Silva Santos, Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu and his predecessor Sandro Rosell.

Barcelona said it paid €57m (£43m) for Neymar in 2013 but investigators say the fee was closer to €83m and the club concealed part of the deal.

The Spanish case was brought by Brazilian third-party investment fund DIS, which owned 40% of the Brazilian player’s sports rights.

DIS alleges it was financially harmed by the transfer when it received €6.8m of Mr Santos’s €17m fee and argues it was deprived of its full share.