21 August 2019
The High Court of Justice recently handed down Judgment no. 14/2019, of 24 April, acquitting Alexandre Rosell Feliú (also known as “Sandro Rosell”), a businessman and former Chairman of Barcelona Football Club between 2010 and 2014, of the criminal offences of money laundering and belonging to a criminal organisation for which he was charged; it also acquitted several other individuals charged for the same offences.
Specifically, the charges were that Mr Rosell Feliú allegedly coordinated a complex network of companies that allegedly allowed Ricardo Terra Teixeira, Chairman of the Brazilian Football Confederation between 1989 and 2012, to gain 19.9 million euros in illegal commissions for the television rights contracts to 24 friendly matches of the Brazilian national team, and also through the sponsorship agreement signed in 2011 between Nike and the Brazilian federation, through which Mr Rosell would have allegedly received 12 million euros as an intermediary.
The Public Prosecutor's Office initially requested a prison term of 11 years for Mr Rosell, and a fine of nearly 60 million euros, for committing an offence of money laundering under
art. 301, and an offence of belonging to a criminal organisation under art. 570 ter 1(b) of the Criminal Code. In the
oral trial, however, the Public Prosecutor requested a total sentence of 6 years' imprisonment (4 years for the first offence, and 2 years for the second) in his
closing statements, maintaining the amount of the fine requested.
Mr Rosell Feliú denied the charges in his statement as defendant. He has always insisted that he has never been paid any type of commission, “either legally or illegally”. He had been held in custody for a total of 643 days before the trial, longer than the average preventive imprisonment period.
In their Judgment, the Judges of the High Court of Justice state that the Public Prosecutor's Office had made certain errors in analysing the network of companies and transactions which had apparently been carried out, and in which the co-defendants Mr Joan Besolí Ribalta and Mr Pedro Andrés Ramos Gonzáles, and certain others, would have taken part as well as Mr Rosell. They also consider that from the facts which have been proven, it cannot be inferred that any offence of money laundering had been committed in the transactions actually carried out by Mr Rosell.
Specifically, the Senior Judges of the High Court of Justice have analysed the evidence from two standpoints, according to the theses presented by the Public Prosecutor's Office, and ruled that: “In any event, the question will be addressed, analysing the evidence from both points of view, that is, on the one hand, in relation to what is called an alleged loan, and, on the other, in relation to the movement of money through accounts in Andorra (...) and we must say that we cannot find evidence of money laundering in either of the two.”
In the “analysis of evidence” section of the Judgment, the Court finds that: “...we consider that there is not sufficient evidence of the alleged money laundering..."
And later, the Judgment concludes that: “In short, as the AILANTO, CBF, NIKE transaction in the terms postulated by the Public Prosecutor's Office has been ruled out, we cannot assume that those €5,000,000 were moved through Andorran accounts or that Messieurs BESOLÍ and RAMOS took part in the claimed repayment of that amount. Hence, as we have stated in the findings of fact section, these two defendants had no connection with such a transaction, as we have not found any sign of criminal behaviour in the movement of such funds from the time they come under the control of Mr ROSELL to the point at which he no longer had control of these funds, and thus, ultimately, the three defendants must be acquitted of the alleged charges in relation to this transaction.
Consequently, Mr. Rosell and the five other defendants are acquitted.
On 3 July 2019 the Appeals Section of the Spanish National High Court dismissed the appeal of the Public Prosecutor´s Office and confirmed the judgement of acquittal of Mr. Rosell. The judgement of acquittal has become final since the Public Prosecutor´s Office decided not to appeal to the Supreme Court.
You can download the complete sentence in the link below:
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