MADRID (Parlay Game) – Former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell denied money laundering charges in court on Tuesday, saying he had not done anything about the money laundering charges. unlawful in the sale of television rights for the matches of the Brazil National team.
The former leader of Nike in Brazil, who chaired Barcelona from 2010 to 2014, was accused of embezzling funds from the sale of television rights and the organization of friendly matches putting featured Brazil, as well as a sponsorship deal between Nike and Brazil. He is also accused of being part of a criminal organization.
Spanish prosecutors are demanding an 11-year prison sentence and a fine of nearly 60 million euros ($ 68 million).
"I am innocent," Rosell told the judge at the end of his testimony. "I will always defend my prestige and my honor."
Prosecutors said Rosell had helped to launder nearly 20 million euros ($ 22.7 million) related to commissions for Brazil's matches during the takeover by the president of the Brazilian Football Confederation, Ricardo Teixeira. He is accused of having withheld at least 6.5 million euros ($ 7.3 million) of this money.
"There was no commission, neither illegal nor legal," said Rosell in answering questions from his lawyers.
He was not supposed to face the prosecutors' questions.
Rosell said it was "absolutely wrong" to have helped launder money for Teixeira, although he admitted to having made some commercial investments with the Brazilian football manager. He said that they had nothing to do with the contract for Brazil's matches. He also admitted that Teixeira had loaned him money to help him pay for an apartment he had paid back three years later, with interest.
Prosecutors said the loan was part of the money laundering plan involving Rosell and Teixeira.
Teixeira, a former member of the FIFA Executive Committee, was indicted by the US authorities in 2015 as part of the corruption scandal in football. The Brazilian authorities have also investigated him.
Rosell said the company he was working for, Saudi Arabia The ISE conglomerate has reached an agreement with the Brazilian confederation on $ 1.15 million to organize and hold the television rights for 24 matches with Brazil. According to the agreement, Rosell said his own company would earn $ 250,000 after each game.
He stated that his contract with ISE had ended after 14 matches because he had decided to run for president of Barcelona, which had cost him $ 2.5 million to which he would have been entitled for the remainder of the agreement.
"It was one or the other," Rosell said. "I would not have time to do both."
Rosell said that he had become a much bigger target for the Spanish authorities since he became president of Barcelona. He said he has been subjected to more than 50 inspections by the tax authorities since then and has always targeted them. He added that his relatives had also been targeted.
The charges against Rosell are not directly related to his tenure as president of Barcelona.
He is also involved in another case related to the transfer of Neymar from a Brazilian club Santos Barcelona in 2013. Bribery charges were laid as a result of a Brazilian investment group that reported receiving less compensation because part of Neymar's transfer costs were hidden by those involved.
Rosell has been in police custody since his arrest almost 21 months ago. He arrived handcuffed for the first day of the trial on Monday.
The entire trial is expected to last 10 days, with different sessions until March.
Rosell's wife and four other people were also charged.