2nd March 2021

FC Barcelona officials arrested

Four FC Barcelona officials have been arrested after searches conducted in five locations in order to gather information as part of a year long investigation into ‘alleged crimes related to property and socio-economic order’, Catalonian police announced yesterday. A club statement said that that police action was related to the ‘contracting of monitoring services on social networks’. 

In February last year, it was alleged that the club had hired a company to produce disparaging social media posts aimed at critics of club President, Josep Maria Bartomeu, who resigned in October. The club denied all knowledge and claimed that I3 Ventures, a service provider to the club, had no relationship with any of the accounts mentioned (see below).

In April last year, former Vice President Emili Rousaud alleged that the contract with I3 was amongst a number shredded by the club. ‘The existence of corruption within the club is evidence in the already proven fact that contracts between related companies (one based in a tax haven, in violation of the law) were shredded to avoid allegations of money laundering or in order to avoid internal controls’, he wrote in a statement provided to EFE. Rousaud was among six former executives of the club who resigned in protest against Bartomeu, also in April last year.

Following Rousaud’s allegations, the club said it would begin legal action against him due to his ‘grave and unfounded’ allegations regarding management of the club. Rousaud was standing as a candidate to replace Bartomeu as President, however withdrew in January.

The club also commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to conduct an audit. A statement published in July outlined that PwC’s audit had found that club officials didn’t direct the content posed on the identified social media profiles; that no club officials financially benefitted from the contract; and that the services provided were within the normal market price range. 

However, the club only published a Summary of Conclusions in support of this statement, which outlines that it ‘should not be considered as a separate document’. The summary also outlines an ‘invoice that was issued by I3 Ventures for an amount of 37,000 Euros, which corresponds to an additional order made by the Club outside the Contracts, for which a contract was not signed and did not go through any contracting process and/or receive any authorisation’. 

It has been widely reported that Bartomeu, his adviser Jaume Masferrer, CEO Oscar Grau, and Head of Legal Services Roman Gomez Bonti were the four club officials arrested yesterday. It is understood that the election of Bartomeu’s replacement as President was due to take place on 7 March.

You may also like...

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This