Barcelona’s previous president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, his advisor Jaume Masferrer, the club’s chief govt, Óscar Grau, and the head of authorized expert services, Román Gómez Ponti, have been arrested and Catalan police have entered the Camp Nou to seize documentation as section of an investigation into an alleged misuse of cash and corruption.
The arrests are section of a case set collectively by the investigating judge relating to Barcelona’s using the services of of a social checking corporation, I3 Ventures. Through a series of providers, I3 Ventures experienced been accused of placing up web-sites and social media accounts that wrote stories defending the president and damaging the reputations of opposition figures and even some gamers and previous gamers.
Barcelona were being alleged to have more than-paid for the expert services, which they were being alleged to have accomplished in a series of smaller sized instalments that did not need authorisation by the board or set off inner controls. In full, payments to the corporation are alleged to have added up to €1,107,500 in 2017-18 with a contract signed for the future two seasons value €947,700, despite the fact that the expert services were being stopped immediately after the tale broke, it is claimed. In every single case, the payments built were being reportedly less than the €200,000 threshold that triggers inner checks.
Barcelona denied any wrongdoing and I3 ventures insisted the accounts publishing negative stories were being not theirs. An inner audit carried out on the club’s behalf by PricewaterhouseCoopers cleared them of corruption or defamation, prompting the club to demand from customers that media who experienced built “defamatory accusations” to “rectify” studies. But the police operation ongoing, led by the investigating justice of the peace, Ariadna Gil.
FC Barcelona confirmed that officers from the Mossos d’Escuadra’s Financial Offences Unit were being at the stadium on Monday and promised total cooperation.
This is the second time the authorities have seized documentation at the stadium. Though investigators experienced originally only asked for the gathering of documentation, police stated they experienced built arrests.
Cadena SER radio, which uncovered the initial case that prompted the investigation, documented the 4 guys experienced been arrested on suspicion of “unfair administration, corruption among men and women and cash laundering.”
Bartomeu, who was pressured to resign as president of Barcelona in Oct, was arrested at his house. None of the guys are anticipated to be held right away, but they will be essential to give official statements.
The arrests appear in the make up to presidential elections on Sunday, with 3 candidates competing to run the club: Joan Laporta, Víctor Font and Toni Freixa.
Extra than €800m in debt, Barcelona are confronted with a money and institutional crisis. In April, six board customers resigned more than the way the club was being run not long immediately after the initial tale broke. That bundled Emili Rousaud, who Bartomeu appeared to be preparing to be a continuity candidate at forthcoming elections. In an job interview with RAC1 radio station, Rousaud was extremely critical of the way the club was being run.
In June, Barcelona suspended their compliance officer, Noemi Romero, who was accountable for main an inner investigation. They used PwC to have out an audit. The report, introduced in the summer, concluded there was no corruption and that what they experienced paid for social checking expert services was not out of line with market prices.
“We have not observed any indication that any instructions [for on the internet material] were being built by the administrators of the club,” the report stated. “FC Barcelona did not get an marketing campaign of defamation from anybody. There was no corrupt carry out.
“We have observed no evidence to propose that anybody from the board of administrators has specifically benefitted economically as a outcome of the contacts.”
The report did elevate uncertainties about the way payments for the expert services were being built, referring to a failure to observe protocol.
Police judged an investigation commissioned by the club could not be regarded conclusive and ongoing to go after the case, main to arrests on Monday.