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Former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has been arrested as part of a fresh investigation into ‘Barcagate’ at Camp Nou, Goal can confirm.
That process started in the early hours with a request for all relevant documentation to be passed over by Barca employees and for material relating to the long-running case to be seized by authorities.
Alongside Bartomeu, Goal has learned that three other arrests have been made at this stage.
Chief Executive Officer of the club, Oscar Grau, former adviser to the presidency Jaume Masferrer, and head legal counsel Roman Gomez Ponti have also been arrested.
Catalan police are said to have left offices at Camp Nou on Monday morning after carrying out a search and headed to the home of Bartomeu.
Bartomeu’s administration have been accused of paying PR company I3 to oversee online work for the club.
It is alleged that I3 were paid to clear up Bartomeu’s image, as he came under fire from a disgruntled fan base, while disparaging the reputation of a number of current and former players – including Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique and Xavi.
A year has passed since reports of wrongdoing on the part of Barca board members first surfaced.
Barca and I3 were quick to refute the allegations and an audit conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found that no defamatory campaigns had been launched any against individual.
Links between the Liga giants and I3 were broken off, but police forces have continued to look into the matter.
They first raided offices at Camp Nou in June 2020 and have now returned to step up their investigation.
All of those at the centre of the allegations are innocent until proven otherwise.
He was the subject of a vote of no confidence from club supporters, with the decision taken to walk away before he was ousted from a prominent position.
No successor has been elected as yet, with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic causing problems for sporting institutions around the world.
Barca are, however, hoping to get a new figurehead in place on March 7, with Joan Laporta, Victor Font and Toni Freixa the three remaining candidates left in the running to fill a vacant presidential post.