Judge Carmen Lamela refused up to three times to hand over to the defense of the former president of Barcelona Football Club Sandro Rosell the documents of the international rogatory commission of the New York Prosecutor's Office that was at the origin of the case that would lead to the former president of Barça to spend two years in pretrial detention to end up being acquitted. And it was not she who handed it over, but her substitute in court number 3 of the National Court, when the room that was judging Rosell asked her to do so, at the beginning of the hearing.
This request reached the court on June 5, 2015 through the Ministry of Justice, although the letter from the New York prosecutors on which it was based had been written for a few weeks. From there the case formally started, at least in relation to the legal case. The request for judicial cooperation from the New York Prosecutor's Office referred to three people: Rosell and two other executives from the world of soccer linked to the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) and the awarding of the organization of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, as well as the sale of the television and sports rights of the selections of the American continent.
The Manhattan Prosecutor's Office was investigating the payment of bribes to FIFA members to get votes in favor of Qatar to host that World Cup, as well as payments of illegal commissions by private companies to directors of national federations to gain the television rights of the different American teams. . Regarding these crimes, the New York Prosecutor's Office supported the possible existence of crimes of organized crime, money laundering and electronic fraud, among others.
In the case of Rosell, the rogatory indicated that "given the evidence that he received improper payments and the movement from his account in the US to his account in Spain, the US authorities estimate that the bank records they are requesting will demonstrate the existence of deposits of the illicit proceeds in that account or from the laundering of those proceeds from crime”.
Despite this, it only requested information on the movements of their accounts, without additional measures such as the freezing of funds. Something that he did with the other two, the Nicaraguan Julio Rocha and the Venezuelan Rafael Esquivel, the latter with a diplomatic passport from that country and also from Spain. For them he claimed to "seize, restrict or otherwise disable all funds, including accrued interest."
That was the starting point of the case against Rosell. Prosecutors commissioned the 3rd group of the famous central economic and fiscal crime unit (UDEF) to analyze the bank movements of the Catalan businessman. From this order, several reports were prepared on which prosecutors Vicente González Mota and Daniel Campos based the complaint against the businessman filed in March 2017.
In that document there was no reference to the rogatory commission or to the possible operation linked to the purchase of votes for Qatar to win the 2022 World Cup, as in the rogatory; Yes, crimes that had been included in it, such as money laundering. And he only spoke about Rosell's operations with Ricardo Terra Teixeira, former president of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF).
Two months after the complaint was filed, Rosell was arrested on May 23, by order of Judge Lamela. A week later, she lifted the summary secrecy of the case, with which Rosell then learned that he had been secretly investigated for more than a year and a half. First, for the rogatory; later by the UDEF and the prosecutors.
He remained in prison until February 27, 2019, when the courtroom that was judging him released him. In those almost two years in prison, only two procedural acts were produced in the case, both requested by his defense. None by the Prosecutor's Office or the judge.
However, long before the complaint was filed, on December 17, 2015, the court received a new brief from the New York Prosecutor's Office that was contemporary with the first. It had been formalized on May 20, 2015. It was the formal accusation of the New York Prosecutor's Office before the city district court. The first of the Fifagate case. And in it appeared as defendants, among others, the two Latin American directors who appeared in the rogatory commission that originated the case, Rocha and Esquivel, but nothing about Rosell.
In May, months before the arrival of the letter to the Lamela court, the New York Prosecutor's Office already made public that list of defendants. But since everything in Spain was secret, nobody knew that Rosell was being investigated. Does that explain the refusal of Lamela and the Prosecutor's Office to reveal the content of the rogatory that the businessman's defense claimed up to three times?
Since the first communication in December 2015, the New York Prosecutor's Office sent other letters: it included a second delivery, in this case it included the Spanish Gerard Romy, Mediapro executive and head of that company's business in the US, for whom they claimed a record of its offices in Barcelona and Madrid. He is currently awaiting trial after being indicted by the New York Prosecutor's Office in March 2020. But there was never a single reference to Rosell again. Despite this, the UDEF, the Prosecutor's Office and the judge continued to advance the case against the Catalan executive, who knew nothing of what was happening. The UDEF presented the first report on his activities in February 2016, two months after the New York Prosecutor's Office did not sue him.