Bayern Munich President Hoeness Probed for Tax Evasion
By Karin Matussek - Apr 22, 2013 4:34 AM ET
Uli Hoeness, the former German national soccer player and president of Bayern Munich football club, is being investigated for tax evasion after reporting himself to authorities in January in a bid for amnesty.
Munich prosecutors are examining whether the formal declaration, possible under German law to win a pardon for tax violations, “was complete and valid,” Ken Heidenreich, a spokesman for the prosecutors, said in an interview today. As a rule, amnesty is only granted if such a declaration is “exhaustive,” he said.
Uli Hoeness who made his fortune with sausages as founder of the HoWe Wurstwaren KG factory that makes a version of the famous Nuremberger Rostbratwurst, is the most prominent German to seek clemency offered for a limited period after lawmakers last year rejected a treaty that would have ended the country’s practice of buying stolen Swiss bank data to identify tax evaders. Photographer: Ute Grabowsky/Photothek via Getty Images
Hoeness, 61, who made his fortune with sausages as founder of the HoWe Wurstwaren KG factory that makes a version of the famous Nuremberger Rostbratwurst, is the most prominent German to seek clemency offered for a limited period after lawmakers last year rejected a treaty that would have ended the country’s practice of buying stolen Swiss bank data to identify tax evaders. Last week, the homes of 200 Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN) customers were raided by prosecutors as part of a tax-evasion probe based on account data obtained by a German state government.
Bayern Munich’s press office didn’t immediately reply to a fax seeking comment from the club and from Hoeness. Heidenreich said he has asked Hoeness’s lawyer for approval to make his contact details available to the press and won’t do so before he obtains that consent.
German lawmakers in December rejected an accord with Switzerland aimed at resolving disputes over how to tax funds held by its citizens at banks in the Alpine country.
Focus magazine, which reported the Hoeness investigation at the weekend, said the former soccer professional speculated the tax deal would go through. A member of the German team that won the 1974 World Cup, Hoeness scored 86 goals in 239 Bundesliga appearances and played for Bayern Munich for more than eight years before retiring because of injury at the age of 27.
He submitted the formal declaration after the treaty failed, according to the report. His home in Tegernseer Tal, a popular tourist resort near Munich, was raided last month in the probe, the magazine said.
The push to crack down on tax evasion comes as many European nations struggle to narrow budget deficits in the face of stalled growth and a regional debt crisis.
The European Union’s six largest countries vowed on April 13 to move ahead with an initiative for automatic sharing of bank information across borders to battle tax evasion. Germany,France, the U.K., Italy, Spain and Poland called for the 27- nation bloc to adopt the FATCA information exchange program.
Austria and Luxembourg earlier this month announced plans that bring them more in line with the EU’s position, leaving Switzerland increasingly isolated and clinging to its bilateral accords with the U.K. and Austria, which still shield client identities.
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