Police raided the offices of FC Barcelona on Monday, carrying out several arrests just six days ahead of the club’s presidential elections, a Catalan regional police spokesman told AFP.
Spain’s Cadena Ser radio said one of those arrested was former club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who resigned in October, along with CEO Oscar Grau and the club’s head of legal services.
But the police refused to confirm names, saying only “arrests are taking place” and adding that the operation was being run by officers from the financial crimes unit.
“We are in the process of carrying out an operation right now with agents of the financial crimes unit,” the police spokesman told AFP.
According to reports in the Spanish media, the operation is linked to last year’s investigation into the ‘BarcaGate’ scandal, which saw the club deny hiring a company to criticise current and former players on social media to improve the image of the then-president Bartomeu.
Cadena Ser said Barca paid one million euros in six separate invoices to the company I3 Ventures, with whom the club have since cut ties.
Bartomeu resigned in October, after mounting pressure following months of controversy and a dramatic decline in performances on the pitch.
His successor is due to be elected on Sunday, when club members will choose between the final three candidates, Joan Laporta, Toni Freixa and Victor Font.
Statement from FC Barcelona:
Regarding the entry and search by the Catalan Police force this morning at the Camp Nou offices by order of the Instructing Court number 13 in Barcelona, which is in charge of the case relating to the contacting of monitoring services on social networks, FC Barcelona have offered up their full collaboration to the legal and police authorities to help make clear facts which are subject to investigation.
The information and documentation requested by the judicial police force relate strictly to the facts relative to this case.
FC Barcelona express its utmost respect for the judicial process in place and for the principle of presumed innocence for the people affected within the remit of this investigation.