Brazilian authorities have blocked assets of Barcelona star Neymar, including a yacht, a jet and several properties worth almost $50 million.
Report from Brazilian media on Monday, says that Sao Paulo federal court rejected an appeal from the Brazilian striker last week and started issuing warrants to freeze the assets worth 192 million reals (almost $50 million).
Last year, Neymar, his family and related businesses were found guilty of evading 63 million reals in taxes (almost $16 million) between 2011 and 2013 when he was playing for Brazilian club Santos. He has denied any wrongdoing.
The 23-year-old Neymar used the jet to travel to Brazil for World Cup qualifying matches and holidays.
Iagaro Jung Martins, an auditor with Brazil’s federal tax agency, told The Associated Press that Neymar isn’t likely to go to jail if he pays what regulators say he owes.
“He can still appeal that decision, but it is a step forward,” Martins told the AP. “Nothing changed to what was in place last year: if he pays what he owes, the case is closed. Our legislation isn’t too harsh.”
The assets seizure is the latest in a streak of bad news for the Brazilian star off the pitch.
On Feb. 2 Neymar and his father were questioned for three hours in a Madrid court about the player’s transfer to Barcelona. The case was brought by Grupo Sonda, which invested in Neymar early in his career and was allegedly entitled to 40 percent of the total transfer amount.
Barcelona maintains the deal cost the club 57.1 million euros (then $74 million), but recall that In January 2014, the prosecutor’s office in Madrid began investigating the transfer fee that Barcelona paid for Neymar. The documents submitted to the authorities on request contained contradictory information. On 23 January 2014 Sandro Rosell resigned from his position as president of FC Barcelona. A day later the details of the transfer were revealed by Barcelona; the transfer had in fact cost them €86.2 million (£71.5 million), with Neymar’s parents confirmed to have received a €40 million sum. In the aftermath, Barcelona and Bartomeu were charged with tax fraud.
Former and current Barcelona presidents and representatives of Santos were also questioned. The Brazilian club also claims to have been hurt by the transfers. All parties denied any wrongdoing.