French authorities conducted a search of the Ministry of the Economy and Finance offices on Monday, marking a significant development in an ongoing investigation.
The inquiry revolves around allegations of favoritism related to Paris Saint-Germain’s (PSG) £200 million transfer of Brazilian football star Neymar Jr from Barcelona in 2017.
Neymar, who previously played for Barcelona, made headlines with his move to PSG in a world-record deal. After spending five years at Parc des Princes, the 31-year-old forward recently shifted to the Saudi Pro League side Al-Hilal.
According to reports from French outlet Mediapart, Neymar’s initial transfer is now part of a broader investigation into influence peddling that commenced in September 2022.
The focus of the inquiry involves Jean-Martial Ribes, PSG’s former communications director, who is alleged to have sought advice from then-Vice President of the National Assembly Hugues Renson regarding potential ‘tax advantages’ for Neymar’s transfer.
Renson, in turn, claims to have consulted with former Minister of Public Accounts Gerald Darmanin to assess the potential tax implications of the high-profile transfer.
Ribes, accused of exploiting his position at the club for sensitive information benefiting both PSG and personal gain, resigned from his role in 2022.
The recent investigation, conducted by France’s Central Office for the Fight against Corruption and Fiscal Fraud, took place in the Department of the General Directorate of Public Finances.
Investigating magistrates Vincent Lemonier and Serge Tournaire were present during the search, further underscoring the gravity of the situation.
As the authorities delve into the details of Neymar’s transfer, questions surrounding potential tax irregularities and the broader scope of influence peddling continue to loom over the football world.
The fallout from this investigation may have far-reaching consequences for both the individuals involved and the reputation of one of the world’s most prominent football clubs.