Police investigate Former Barca president for club’s financial problems
Josep Maria Bartomeu’s name is still very present in the world of Barcelona. Following his resignation as club president in 2020, he has been under investigation for matters relating to his time at the Catalan club, with the latest reports pointing to an alleged diversion of club capital for personal purposes.
According to the program ‘Que T’hi Jugues’, the Mossos d’Esquadra (the local police) report has determined that Bartomeu used a Barça contract with Almagama Marketing for external payments to the club. This company billed 152,000 euros from a contract with the club.
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Of this money, 86% was diverted to third parties such as journalists or businessmen on Bartomeu’s express orders. The remaining 14% went to the company Almagama Marketing themselves.
Police sources state that, in the registered devices, a folder with the name “Digital Services Contracts” was found, where contracts with companies of the Nicestream group appeared, with names such as the well-known ‘I3Ventures’.
Another piece of information from the investigation is Bartomeu’s messages with journalists, such as Marçal Llorente.
In these messages, the journalist allegedly acknowledged receiving money from companies such as Almagama and also his participation in the candidacy of the then president as head of digital strategy. In exchange for this, Llorente would work for Barça.
Bartomeu later admitted that I3 Ventures had been hired to improve the club’s image on social media but not to damage the reputation of any individuals.
“Barca did not contract services to damage the reputation of anybody and we will defend ourselves against those who are attacking us,” Bartomeu said.
The scandal became known as “Barcagate” in local media, with the club paying €980,000 ($1.1 million) for the I3 Ventures campaign.
A PWC briefing commissioned by Barca found that the fee had been “over market value” and concluded that a more reasonable sum would have fallen between €120,000 ($134,500) and €150,000 ($168,000).
Back in the present, Que T’hi Jugues explained that several messages were found of Mundo Deportivo and El Chiringuito collaborator Marcal Lorente allegedly acknowledging that he worked as Bartomeu’s head of digital strategy in return for working at Barca.
In one message, Lorente allegedly reminded its recipient that he had defended the Bartomeu project with his partiality and involvement making it “now very difficult to return to the position of objective journalist”.
In February 2020, Lorente clashed with then-Barca star Gerard Pique on Twitter when the now retired defender called him a “puppet”.
As of yet, neither Lorente nor Bartomeu have responded to Què T’hi Jugues’ report and the allegations.
There has been no official statement from the club either, which Bartomeu left in October 2020 when he resigned.
Through winning a March 2021 election, current president Joan Laporta took over and inherited a club that was “technically bankrupt” according to former CEO Ferran Reverter.