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Judge freezes Neymar's assets in tax evasion probe

SAO PAULO: The parents of Brazil forward Neymar have denied any wrongdoing after a judge froze 188.8 million reais ($47.6 million) of the player’s assets in a tax evasion case.

Neymar is accused of not paying 63.3 million reais in taxes between 2011 and 2013 but his parents said the Barcelona player “cannot declare what is not his” and is not a partner in the firms a judge said were part-owned by the player.

The judge froze three times that amount for security reasons and to cover potential interest and fines, according to a judicial order explaining the seizure. The action covers property and vehicles and is a preventive measure to stop the player selling assets before the case is settled. He will still have access to bank accounts and other liquid assets.

Judge Carlos Muta accused the 23-year-old of “omitting sources of income from abroad”. Barcelona Football Club was cited as the source of unreported money.

The frozen assets were in the name of the Brazil player and three companies in which he and his parents are the principal owners, the judge said. Neymar’s total assets were given as 244.2 million reais.

However, Neymar’s parents said the decision was based on an “incorrect understanding” of their son’s income. “Neymar Jr did not avoid paying taxes, and neither did any of our companies,” Neymar da Silva Santos and Nadine Goncalves da Silva Santos said in a statement released to the press.

“We have done our duty and we are confident that everything will be cleared up in due time.”

Neymar joined the Spanish club in June 2013 after a successful career at Santos but his transfer has been a source of controversy. Then Barcelona president Sandro Rosell said Neymar cost 57.1 million euros ($63.92 million) but the deal was shrouded in secrecy.

His successor Josep Maria Bartomeu eventually admitted the total cost came to 86.2 million euros once additional payments to the player and his family had been included.

Rosell resigned in January 2014 after a judge decided to investigate and call him to testify in the case.

A Brazilian investment firm which bought an interest in Neymar has taken legal action against the player, his father and Barcelona in a bid to secure a bigger slice of the transfer fee.

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