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FRAUD

Spanish court acquits ex-Barça president of money laundering

A Spanish court on Wednesday acquitted former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell, who spent nearly two years in pre-trial custody, of money laundering.

Spanish court acquits ex-Barça president of money laundering
Sandro Rosell attends the first hearing in his trial over money laundering in Madrid on February 25, 2019. Photo: AFP

Rosell, his wife and four others, were accused of “large-scale money laundering” of close to €20 million ($23 million) since 2006, relating to television rights and sponsorship deals in Brazil.   

The National Court, which handles major criminal cases, said it had acquitted all six accused because “after evaluating the evidence presented during the trial, the accusations were not proven”.

“As such, given the doubts that were raised, the principle of 'in dubio pro reo' must apply,” said the court, using the Latin for 'when in doubt favour the accused', referring to the presumption of innocence.

Prosecutors at the Madrid-based court had called for the ex-Barça boss, who was held in pre-trial between May 2017 and February 2019, to be jailed for six years.

The Rosells were accused of hiding money illegally obtained by Ricardo Teixeira, the former head of the Brazilian Football Confederation.   

The case centres on a deal signed by Teixeira in 2006 with a company based in the Cayman Islands for the television rights to 24 Brazil friendly matches.   

Altogether, Rosell and his wife allegedly received close to €15 million in their accounts as part of the deal.   

They pocketed €6.6 million with 8.4 million destined for Teixeira, prosecutors say.

Rosell, 55, had previously lived and worked in Brazil, where he forged business links.

Teixeira has been indicted by US Justice Department prosecutors investigating the FIFA corruption scandal.

Rosell is also suspected of having received some five million euros illicitly as part of Nike's sponsorship deal with the Brazilian team.

He resigned as Barcelona president in 2014 over murky transfer dealings that brought Brazilian striker Neymar to the club from Santos.   

Rosell is waiting to be tried in another case for corruption, fraud and tax evasion related to Neymar's transfer to the Catalan giants in 2013.

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HEALTH

Spain’s ‘2,000-tumour man’ sentenced for scamming donors

A Spaniard known as "the man with 2,000 tumours" who lied about having terminal cancer was handed a two-year jail term Monday for scamming donations from thousands, including celebrities.

Spain's '2,000-tumour man' sentenced for scamming donors
De Cedecejj - Trabajo propio, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=99402644

Paco Sanz, 50, appeared regularly on television and social media between 2010 and 2017, claiming to have nearly 2,000 tumours as a result of Cowden syndrome.

Saying he had only months to live, he appealed for donations via his web page, through text messages and even a charity gala.   

Although he did suffer from the syndrome, all his tumours were benign and posed no threat to his life.

Prosecutors say the former security guard collected just under €265,000 ($319,000) before being arrested in March 2017 in the eastern Valencia region.   

Among those who sent him money were popular television presenter Jorge Javier Vazquez and Spanish footballer Alvaro Negredo.    

Prosecutors accused Sanz of “taking advantage of his illness” to “obtain illegal funding”.

They said he presented the disease as being “much more serious than it really was” and of falsely claiming he could only be saved if he got experimental treatment in the United States.   

In reality, he travelled to the US to take part in a free clinical trial and “all his costs were covered” by the firm running it, prosecutors added.    

In video obtained by Spanish media at the time of his arrest, Sanz could be seen joking with his girlfriend and family members about the lies he was telling.

As his trial opened in Madrid on Monday, Sanz pleaded guilty to fraud, receiving a two-year jail sentence, while his girlfriend was sentenced to a year and nine months for being his accomplice.

But they are not likely to serve time behind bars, as sentences below two years are usually suspended in Spain for first-time offenders convicted of non-violent crimes.

The trial will continue so the court can determine how much money the pair owe in damages.

READ ALSO: Fraudster parents of sick girl jailed for charity scam

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