Barcelona deny corruption after 6 board members resign

(L to R - Top to Bottom) FC Barcelona's Members of board of Directors Emili Rousaud, Maria Teixido, Javier Bordas, Jordi Moix, Jordi Mones, Silvio Elias, Pau Vilanova, Enrique Tombas, Oriol Tomas, Manel Arroyo, Carles Vilarrubi, FC Barcelona incumbent president Josep Maria Bartomeu, Jordi Cardoner, Jordi Mestre and Susana Monge.

Vice presidents Emili Rousaud and Enrique Tombas, and directors Silvio Elias, Maria Teixidor, Josep Pont and Jordi Calsamiglia all signed a joint letter of resignation on Friday night.

Rousaud then gave an interview on Catalan radio station RAC1 on Friday in which he suggested someone at the club had had their "hand in the til".

The resignations are the latest episode in a scandal that emerged in January when it was revealed a company called I3 Ventures, hired to monitor coverage of Barcelona in social media, had links to social media accounts that generated negative stories about Barcelona players and rivals of president Josep Bartomeu.

A subsequent internal enquiry questioned why I3 Ventures had been paid €1 million (A$1.7m) and why the payment had been broken up into invoices small enough to not originally require internal auditing.

"If the auditors tell us that the cost of this service (I3 Ventures) is €100,000 and we paid one million, then someone has had their hand in the till," Rousaud told RAC1.

"I have no evidence and cannot say who. This contract had been broken into pieces of €200,000 so that it would not have to go through the control commission."

Barcelona issued a statement later on Friday denying the claims made by Rousaud.

"In the face of the serious and unfounded allegations made this morning by Mr. Emili Rousaud, the club's former vice president, in various media interviews, FC Barcelona categorically denies any action that could be described as corruption," the statement read.

It also said the I3 Ventures contract was currently being independently audited by PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

And it claimed that the board members who had resigned were already being moved on as part of boardroom shake-up.

"The resignations of members of the board of directors announced in the last few hours have taken place as a result of the remodeling of the board promoted by President Josep Bartomeu this week, and which will be completed in the coming days," the statement said.

Disagreements over the way Barcelona's board have faced the coronavirus crisis were also widely reported to be behind the split among directors.

Those who have walked away from the club favour a longer term plan of action similar to the season long pay cut imposed this week by Real Madrid.

Barcelona have, as yet, only cut salaries for the period of time the State of Emergency remains in place in Spain.
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