It all started in February of the previous year, when the Chain To be explained that since the end of 2017, FC Barcelona had the services of I3 Ventures, a company owned by Argentine Carlos Ibáñez, which was dedicated to creating opinions through social networks while discrediting and defaming people and entities not related to the board, also to players like Leo Messi and Gerard Piqué. Something that former president Josep Maria Bartomeu denied and that now Ibáñez himself has been in charge of clarifying, since the businessman, based in Uruguay, declared this Tuesday by videoconference in court number 13 in Barcelona. And he admitted that the defamatory campaign was commissioned by the board, while pointing out Jaume Masferrer as an interlocutor between the company and the club, also the right hand of the former president.
“It was an extra service outside the contract,” said Ibáñez, while revealing that there was no surcharge for this operation, which, he admitted, was done through five profiles. Although he denied that it was a smear campaign. “The objective was to protect the reputation. We were looking for how to stop the damage. If they attacked Valverde, I would say that Guardiola did not win titles, “said Ibáñez while assuring that it was to counteract the smear campaigns carried out by Jaume Roures-sole administrator of Mediapro- and Víctor Font -presidential candidate who lost his pulse. with Laporta-, who according to him did orchestrate these profiles. A ruse that the Mossos estimated in an economic loss of up to 1.2 million for Barça and that, in addition, cost Bartomeu the position.
The first reaction of the management leadership was to wash their hands and deny such an outrage, while admitting that I3 Ventures was a supplier company for the club and, if the links with the accounts were demonstrated on social networks, they would terminate the contract. Not only was this demonstrated, but the club paid a million euros per year to Ibáñez’s company and the invoices were divided between different departments so that each one was less than 200,000 euros and thus prevent the contracts from passing through the approval of the Council. Playreta that a few days ago the Mossos revealed as usual in the previous directive, as it highlights a file similar to that of Nicetream (Ibáñez conglomerate) that exceeded two million euros and did not go through the award committee. Although the name of the company is not yet known. “The splitting of the invoices was commissioned by the general director Óscar Grau (CEO of Barça) on behalf of the club,” Ibáñez acknowledged before the judge. Although he pointed out that it seemed normal because they explained that it was done that way because the work was done in different areas.
After the case was uncovered, a few executives demanded explanations and, although it took a long time, Bartomeu left Masferrer suspended from employment and salary until the audit commissioned by PricewaterhouseCoopers… The audit cost 600,000 euros and it turns out that it was also divided so that it did not go through the adjudication committee to bypass internal control. But the case -denounced by the group of partners Dignitat Blaugrana- reached Judge Alejandra Gil, head of the court of instruction number 13 of Barcelona and responsible for the records carried out by the Mossos d’Esquadra in the Camp Nou private homes of those investigated. This led to bringing to court President Bartomeu, in addition to Òscar Grau, the head of the legal services Román Gómez Pontí and Masferrer, accused of unfair administration (paying a possible surcharge to I3 Ventures) and corruption between individuals (supposedly pocketing part of the money).
Regarding the investigation of the Mossos, which placed one of Ibáñez’s companies in a caravan in an open field in the Canelones department of Uruguay, the accused countered: “It could be a mistake or a manipulation. A company with 40 workers is easily verifiable where it is ”. And, regarding the one that Jaime Malet, owner of the company Telam Partners -received 300,000 euros through intermediation-, assured that he asked Malet to introduce it in the Spanish market and that for that reason he charged a commission for each new contract.
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