Barcelona charged with bribery in Negreira case
The Catalan Giants have been charged with bribery for their payments to former Vice-President of the Referees Technical Committee (CTA) Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, in the so-called Negreira case, as per El Debate.
They claim that Barcelona have now been formally accused of bribery by the public prosecutor, which has been admitted by Judge Joaquin Aguirre. The charges fall not only to Negreira and Barcelona, but also to former Barcelona Presidents Josep Maria Bartomeu and Sandro Rosell, as well as Javier Enriquez Romero (Negreira’s son).
While the charge of ‘systemic corruption’ is yet to be proven, the charge of bribery can be justifiably levelled, according to the judge. The charge alleges that Barcelona paid Negreira for his role in a public organisation, which constitutes bribery under Spanish law.
The RFEF are a private organisation, in that the government have no direct influence over it, but according to Aguirre, they fulfil the criteria for a public organisation on three counts; it was created in the general interest, it has its own legal responsibility, and it is under the supervision of the Ministry for Culture and Sport.
Thus Negreira would constitute a public official. This backed up by the Supreme Court ruling that anyone that is named by a competent authority to a position to carry out public functions will be considered a public official.
The report continues on to say that regardless of whether refereeing favours were then returned for those payments, that paying a public official for the carrying out of their duties is considered bribery.
The assumption is that Aguirre does not consider the refereeing consultancy services provided by Negreira to be genuine.
Aguirre also notes the letter sent in 2018 to then Barcelona President Bartomeu from Negreira, after his exit from the CTA, that if the payments stopped.
It could seriously damage the club’. In the judge’s writing, ‘from this it follows that Enriquez Negreira was aware that illicit acts of a significantly serious nature had occurred in favour of Barca.”
Relevo report that the public prosecutor must prove that Enriquez Negreira took an unjust decision as a result of the payments in order to convict the defendants, payments which are yet to be justified.
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It is not yet clear what or which decisions are believed to be unjust. Moreover it looks as if the Blaugrana will have to defend this position in court.
If convicted, Barcelona would likely face expulsion from the Champions League, as bribery of public officials goes against UEFA’s code of conduct.
Barcelona and current President Joan Laporta have denied all charges of systemic corruption so far, and claimed they are part of campaign to disparage the club.
On Thursday morning, the police arrived at RFEF headquarters, where the CTA headquarters are located within, in order to search for documentation related to the period.