By Iain Rogers
MADRID (Reuters) - Barcelona have paid 13.5 million euros ($18.53 million) to the Spanish treasury after they were charged last week with tax fraud in the signing of Brazil forward Neymar.
The Spanish champions reiterated that they did not consider they had committed any offence and said they had made the payment due to a "possible difference of interpretation" about how much they owed after signing Neymar in the close season.
Club president Josep Bartomeu said Barca would fight to defend themselves "because we are in the right" and expressed surprise that the case had blown up so quickly.
Barca members, or "socios", who own the Catalan club, had no reason to be concerned, he told a news conference after a board meeting on Monday.
"It is very strange," he said. "Everything is going very fast and we do not know why. The Barca members should be satisfied with what we have explained, it is the truth."
The exact amount transferred to the public coffers was 13,550,830.56 euros, Barca said on their website (www.fcbarcelona.es), meaning the club have now paid just short of 100 million euros to secure the player's services.
The aim of the payment was "to cover any potential interpretation made concerning the contracts signed in the transfer process for Neymar, although we remain convinced that the original tax payment was in line with our fiscal obligations," Barca said.
"As we have done so far, the club will continue to give maximum collaboration to the law courts in order to clarify the facts of the case," they added.
"The board again insists that in relation to this signing, the club has scrupulously fulfilled its fiscal obligations in line with its awareness at the time of the contracts and agreements signed in good faith."
It was not immediately clear whether the payment would mean the fraud charges laid by a Madrid court would be dropped.
Barcelona were forced on to the defensive over the deal after a member filed a complaint against Bartomeu's predecessor, Sandro Rosell, alleging misappropriation of funds.
Rosell, who denied any wrongdoing, stepped down saying he wanted to protect the club's image. But when details of Neymar's signing came to light the judge overseeing the case granted the public prosecutor's request to lay charges for tax fraud.
After Rosell's exit, Barca admitted Neymar had cost 86.2 million euros, including payments to the player and his family, and not 57.1 million as they originally said.
Together with Monday's payment to the treasury, Neymar has cost the club almost as much as the record 100 million euros arch-rivals Real Madrid paid for Wales winger Gareth Bale last year.
($1 = 0.7285 euros)
(Editing by Ed Osmond and Ken Ferris)