https://sputniknews.com-Pawan Atri-For months, the present president of Barcelona, Joan Laporta, and his predecessor Josep Bartomeu have sniped at each other over the club’s ballooning debt which at one point stood in excess of $1.5 billion. The Spanish side’s financial crisis was also the main reason the club had to part brass rags with former skipper Lionel Messi.
Barcelona President Joan Laporta has asked Spain’s public prosecutor to investigate the financial decisions taken by the club’s previous chief, Josep Bartomeu, and his management after the 59-year-old alleged that they paid “astronomic commissions without justification” during their time in charge.
Laporta insisted that it was Bartomeu and his board’s mismanagement that has left the club’s finances in a mess and is the main reason for the Catalan giants’ huge pile of debt which stands at $1.3 billion.
“The prosecutor should decide whether this is negligence or fraud,” he said after a recent internal investigation conducted by the club indicated that kickbacks and commissions were paid without any reason during Barca’s former regime.
Laporta slammed his predecessor for giving 33 percent commission to third parties instead of the five percent which is the norm. According to Laporta, these “payments with false justification” led to a “disproportionate cost to the club”.
The Barca president credited himself for stemming the tide as he said that the present leadership has cut the club’s salary costs by as much as $180 million.
But the sports administrator insisted there was still much to do.
“There is still a lot to do; we know that by looking at the market,” Laporta said.
“There are clubs interested in our players but when they see the salary that they are on they take a step back. We are still paying above the level of our competitors,” he added.
Meanwhile, corporate lawyer Jaime Campaner, who had a key role in Barcelona’s financial probe, has described the actions of Bartomeu and his board “very serious criminal behaviour”.
“It’s not about pointing fingers or describing the management of the previous board as better or worse – that’s not it,” Campaner said.
“It is about transferring information to the authorities that investigate crimes and clamp down on this sort of behaviour, which is very serious criminal behaviour,” he concluded.
The investigation also found the club was “technically bankrupt”.