The FC Barcelona crest presides over the doors of the old La Masia players' residence.Reuters Staff / Reuters
The FC Barcelona chaired by Josep Maria Bartomeu , with Jaume Masferrer as a henchman as presidential advisor, paid more than two million euros to the company Nicestream for a series of services that go beyond a simple monitoring of social networks. This is what the Catalan autonomous police believe and they detail in their report (to which EL PAÍS has had access) the Mossos d'Esquadra, which have invested months in the investigation of the case known as Barçagate , which culminated in the arrest last Monday of Bartomeu and three other people he trusts, including Masferrer. Those two million were simulated, at least in part, as expenses of different club departments, for example La Masia, whose managers admit to having seen items worth 384,000 euros in total for services that they had never requested. by the Mossos after the searches and interrogations on Barçagate , the agents conclude that the total money paid to Nicestream between 2017 and 2020 —which includes the “private use” of the services together with a “monitoring” of networks in favor of the club – amounts to 2.3 million euros. Part of those 2.3 million slipped, broken down into different items to avoid financial control of the club itself, in the budgets of the different departments of the Barça club for services that, in most cases, were never carried out. According to the entity's own workers, questioned as witnesses.
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journalists at the request of Josep Maria Bartomeu. for example, Xavier Martín, whom Bartomeu signed in February 2019 as director of La Masia, the training school for Barça footballers . A year after his arrival, he detected a series of irregular expenses when preparing a meeting "to assess the work done during his first year in the management of La Masia." According to the report, Martin discovered that an item had been added to his budget of € 192,000 divided by € 16,500 per month. That money was "destined for the digital reputation of La Masia and was entered into the Tantrasoft society". Later he discovered that the person in charge of this company was the same as that of I3 Ventures, Carlos Ibáñez, a founding partner, also of Nicestream.
Martin knew then that these expenses had already been charged to La Masia the previous year. XA, with whom he worked, explained it to him, who also told him that he had asked the club's finance department for an explanation, but never received a response. Martin, the report continues, “due to his professional experience in the field of communication and marketing (…) he was surprised not to know this company [Tantrasoft], and he also did not know or understand what kind of work he could have done for the club ”. For all this, he asked for explanations first from Óscar Grau, CEO and one of those arrested on Monday, and then from Masferrer and Bartomeu. The president, affirms the questioned person, did not know how to give him an explanation. It was a few days later that the SER chain uncovered the first information about Barçagate.
And today Martin declares that Tantrasoft "has not done any marketing or communication work for La Masia and that he has not seen any report of those allegedly they paid for the work related to it ”. He also adds that the money paid for these jobs is "totally off the market", that, furthermore, "there are companies in Catalonia that could perfectly have done that job. It was not necessary to look for a foreign company. ”
Another of those interviewed by the Mossos, Francisco José Joaquín Schroeder, financial director, details how he learned about Barcelona's contracts with Nicestream through the general director of the club's office in Hong Kong, "Who asked him for advice on a contract that had been proposed to him, which had to be signed from the Hong Kong office, but which was to contract ordinary services from Barcelona that had no relationship with his office." Despite being aware of this, Schroeder declares that he has never seen the reports prepared by Nicestream, "whose distribution was very restricted and which was mainly handled by Mr. Masferrer ."
Something similar states Jordi Sin Santos, FC Barcelona security chief, who explains to the Mossos that he saw a budget item in his area for the Futuric company [supposedly another of the Nicestream subsidiaries], although he did not know what he did and he I had not requested their services. When he asked his head of finance, he told him "that this was imposed from above and that it could not be touched."
All the witnesses, conclude the agents of the money laundering unit, agree that "it was a work proposed by Mr. Masferrer, who reported directly to the presidency ”, that is, to Bartomeu. In addition, the order points out, none of the areas had requested this type of service, which “in many cases was imposed on them without being able to decide on it; nor were they services used by their departments. ”