Barcelona uncover "serious criminal behaviour" in audit
Barcelona president Joan Laporta commissioned an investigation into the club's finances that found "payments without cause, payments with a false cause."
Barcelona have confirmed they will assist the Provincial Prosecutor's Office of Barcelona and the police department after finding certain irregularities during a forensic investigation into the club's financial situation under the previous board.
The Catalan giants' financial issues in recent years have been widely reported, which led to club legend Lionel Messi having to leave for Paris Saint-Germain last year after LaLiga denied his contract renewal due to the salary cap imposed on Barça as a result of financial mismanagement.
Barca president Joan Laporta – who returned to the club for a second spell after winning the election in March last year to replace the outgoing Josep Maria Bartomeu – commissioned a due diligence procedure from Deloitte, which revealed a due debt of €1.173billion and a loss of €481m.
Laporta was joined by the club's vice president Eduard Romeu and Jaume Campaner, a corporate lawyer contracted to work on the investigation, at a media conference on Tuesday to outline the findings of the investigation.
Barça: "Commissions of up to 33 per cent have been detected"
Laporta said "payments without cause, payments with a false cause or disproportionate payments were found" while Campaner explained that the findings showed "very serious criminal behaviour".
One of the more interesting revelations from Campaner included a company apparently being created to work on commissions with the club, saying: "We are talking about millionaire amounts. There are payments to intermediaries without justification, non-existence, or well above normal. Commissions of up to 33 per cent have been detected, while only up to five per cent is normal.
"There is a company that was born solely to work on commissions with Barcelona. Completely artificial accounting benefits were presented that are not the reality of the club."
Romeu explained that when he and Laporta arrived last year, they found that the wage bill was 40 per cent higher than those of rival clubs, and as such they have set about trying to drastically trim it where they can, including asking players to take pay cuts and moving on unwanted players.
"The salary bill is fundamental," Romeu said. "We were 40 per cent above our competitors and that was a completely unsustainable situation. To date, we have already saved €159m from the club's wage bill."
A statement on the club's website following the news conference explained the situation in further detail, confirming: "These sources and the conclusions made therefrom by independent analysts have compelled the FC Barcelona Board of Directors to deliver the said material and the supporting evidence to the Provincial Prosecutor's Office of Barcelona as the body that safeguards the principle of legality and which rules on the prosecution of allegedly criminal conduct, with the support of the police departments, whose duty it is to investigate matters involving potential conduct of a criminal nature.
"The allegations filed with the Public Prosecutor's Office are not addressed at any specific persons. They are limited to a description of certain circumstances and it is up to the investigators to determine who might be responsible.
"FC Barcelona is assisting the Provincial Prosecutor's Office of Barcelona and the police department with its enquiries in order to support any clarifications and provide any evidence that they might need in order to thoroughly investigate the circumstances.
"It is because of the social importance of FC Barcelona that the Board of Directors has initiated this exercise of responsibility from the conviction that the club's assets, which are the property of all of its members, must be respected and managed not only in an effective manner in economic and sporting terms, but also is good faith and in consideration of the institution and its members."