Judge Joaquín Aguirre decided this Wednesday impute the current president of FC Barcelona, Joan Laporta, for the Negreira case, in which the payment of 7.3 million euros by the Barça entity to the former vice president of the Technical Committee of Referees, José María Enriquez Negreira, and his son for 18 years is being investigated. The man attributes the same crimes to him as to former presidents Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu and two former directors of the club. That is, a continued crime of bribery and, alternatively, sports corruption, another of unfair administration and falsification of commercial documents.
In the car, to which El Periódico de Cataluña, from Prensa Ibérica, has had access, the owner of the Court of Instruction number 1 of Barcelona extends the status of those under investigation not only to Laporta, but to all members of its board of directors between the years 2008 and 2010 who were integrated into the club’s organizational chart and carried out “an effective responsibility in making the decision to carry out the “allegedly illicit payments” to Enriquez Negreira and his son, Javier Enriquez Romero.
The magistrate considers that the disbursements that Barça made to the former referee leader during Laporta’s first term (2003-2010) are criminal and have not expired, so they can be investigated. At the time, the prosecutor’s office excluded the current president of FC Barcelona from its complaint by applying the statute of limitations. However, the judge now remembers that the prescription, being a crime of continued bribery, It is 10 years from the day the last criminal offense took place, in this case July 17, 2018, when the club made the last payment to the Enriquez family.
With these calculations, the magistrate estimates that the term of 10 years should be applied to the former presidents and certain former directors of Barça, counting from July 17, 2018, taking into account that the penalty that could be imposed for the continued crime of bribery It would be six to seven and a half years in prison. Therefore, the period to be investigated would date back to July 2008, during Laporta’s mandate. In the case of Enriquez Negreira and his son, the resolution specifies, the attributable acts would reach June 2003 (for them the statute of limitations would be 15 years), because although the prison sentence is the same, they would be included, being considered public officials, a disqualification of more than 10 years.
The judge remembers that the crime of bribery punishes the public official who receives money from an individual with the purpose of executing acts that constitute a violation of the duties inherent to the position. And he recalls that in the order that attributed this crime to those investigated (September 27, 2023) he criminally equated Erniquez Negreira with an official. Unlike the crime of corruption in sports, the crime of bribery – which must be tried by a popular court – does not require proof of compensation for payments made to the public official.
The disbursements, the magistrate specifies in his new resolution, were to increase from 70,000 euros per year to 700,000. Precisely, Barça stopped paying in 2018, when the referee leader left his position in the Technical Committee of Referees. For this reason, the judge deduces that these payments “produced the arbitration effects desired by FC Barcelona, in such a way that there must have been inequality in the treatment with other teams” in the League and the Copa de Rey, and “the consequent systemic corruption throughout Spanish arbitration, which It does not mean that each and every referee was corrupt, but a group of them.”
The Enriquez Negreira’s acts, he specifies, “could refer to biased arbitration appointments or to admonitions made to the normally designated arbitrators.” Along these same lines, the judge adds that the purpose pursued with the payments was “spurious” and they are an “act illicit that violates the purity of sports competitionusing unethical means to obtain privileged data that is not available to other teams or transmit, through Enriquez Negreira or his son Javier, certain refereeing suggestions.