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Hoeness quits, accepts jail term

March 14, 2014

Convicted tax evader and Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness has decided not to appeal his sentence and is quitting key soccer club posts. Hoeness, who faces three and a half years in jail, says he accepts judgement.

Prozess Uli Hoeneß Steuerhinterziehung 13.03.2014
Image: Reuters

Hoeness gets 3 years jail for tax evasion

Disgraced Bayern Munich head Uli Hoeness released a statement Friday, saying he was quitting as soccer club president and supervisory board chairman and had decided to ask his lawyers not to seek an appeal against his jail term.

Munich's state court sentenced Hoeness to three and a half years in jail on Thursday after he admitted evading 28.5 million euros in taxes via a Swiss account during this week's short trial.

Hoeness had remained free overnight, however, pending then-anticipated appeal proceedings in a higher court.

The court said Friday it had not yet received a formal appeal waiver from Hoeness and pointed out that a week remained for legal moves. At the trial prosecutors had sought a longer jail term.

Family consulted

In his statement released by the top German club, Hoeness said he had consulted his family and decided to owe up to tax evasion, calling it the "mistake of my life."

"I have asked my lawyers not to begin appeal proceedings," Hoeness said.

"Furthermore I reliquish immediately my posts as president of FC Bayern Munich and as supervisory board chairman of FC Bayern Munich AG," he added, referring to the club's commercial wing.

He added that he want to protect the club from fallout and thanked friends and club fans "from my heart" for their support.

Business role goes to Adidas chief Hainer

Bayern subsequently announced that its deputy board chairman, Adidas executive Herbert Hainer, had been elected to chair its business operations. Adidas has an 8 percent stake in the club.

It remained unclear, however, who would take over as the soccer club's president.

Gabriel challenges Swiss banks

In a further development, Germany's center-left Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said Friday Swiss banks should be forced to expose tax evaders. He was reacting to the conviction of Hoeness.

Gabriel, who is also Germany's Economy Minister, said the diversion of taxable incomes by speculators into Swiss accounts had become a "virtual business model."

Some Swiss bank directors should also be brought before the courts for complicity, he said.

'Lay everything open'

Gabriel told the Bavarian newspaper Passauer Neuen Presse that Swiss banks must as a result be forced to "lay everything open."

It would be even better, said Gabriel, if "some bank directors, who are accomplices to multi-million tax evasion, were similarly brought to court."

The jail sentence imposed by the Munich court reaffirmed the rule of law and added a "new quality" to German efforts to trace tax evaders, he said.

German authorities crack down

Since the 2008 global financial crisis, German authorities have cracked down on alleged evaders and recovered large sums, partly by purchasing CDs containing leaked account holders' data.

Thousands of people have disclosed themselves to their local statutory taxation offices to avoid higher penalties.

German Finance Ministry states secretary Michael Meister of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, said he expected more self-disclosures by tax evaders in Germany.

"Tax evasion is not a cavalier minor offence and will be correspondingly pursued, Meister said.

Merkel's CDU party and Germany's center-left Social Democrats (SPD) head a grand coalition goverment formed in January in the wake of last September's federal election.

ipj/hc (AFP, dpa)