Barcelona president Joan Laporta has been charged with bribery amid the ongoing scandal that has engulfed the La Liga title holders, according to EFE.
Laporta faces legal scrutiny as the judge in the ‘Negreira case’ has charged him with bribery related to payments made to the former vice president of the Technical Committee of Referees (CTA) between 2008 and 2010.
This comes after Spanish police executed a raid on the offices of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), uncovering a web of financial irregularities that has plunged the Catalan giants into crisis.
Laporta is not alone in facing these charges. Members of the Barca board of directors share the legal burden, while former Barcelona presidents Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu have also been charged.
The case revolves around payments worth around €7.3 million made to Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira and his son between 2001 and 2018.
The debate centred on whether or not the payments aimed to influence referees’ decisions in favour of Barca over other La Liga clubs.
The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office initially excluded Laporta from the complaint, arguing that his involvement during his first presidency, between 2003 and 2010, had already expired.
However, the judge disagreed, citing a ten-year limitation period for continued bribery crimes that extended until July 2018, which coincided with the final payment to Negreira and his son.
The judge considers the situation as a single continuing crime involving Barca as the ‘paying’ party, despite changes in board members over the years.
The club and its directors under investigation have lodged appeals against the bribery accusations, arguing that Negreira cannot be considered an official even for criminal purposes.
Laporta and his fellow directors now face a range of charges, including continued bribery, sports corruption, forgery of a commercial document, and accounting falsification.
This follows Barca’s previous announcement that they had made significant progress in reducing their staggering debt, revealing an impressive net profit of €304m for the financial year 2022/23.
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