Hoeness will not appeal jail time, steps down as Bayern chief
Uli Hoeness has said he will not appeal his three-and-a-half year jail sentence for tax evasion and will step down as Bayern Munich president.
Bayern Munich, the club he made into one of the world’s most succesful football dynasties.
“After discussions with my family I have decided to accept the ruling of the Munich court on my tax affairs. This befits my understanding of decency, dignity and personal responsibility,” he wrote in a statement published on the club’s website.
“Tax evasion was the biggest mistake of my life,” he said.
Judge Rupert Heindl ruled on Thursday that Hoeness’s voluntary disclosure of tax evasion was incomplete and therefore did not meet a vital requirement for amnesty laws designed to encourage tax dodgers to come clean.
Hoeness, 62, had admitted evading taxes on income earned in secret Swiss bank accounts, but had hoped for leniency in one of the most closely watched tax evasion cases in German history.
The case hinged on the question of whether Hoeness, who as a player helped West Germany win the 1974 World Cup, cooperated fully with his voluntary disclosure. His case shocked the nation and prompted thousands of tax dodgers to turn themselves in.
Hoeness was first charged with evading 3.5 million euros (£2.9m) in taxes. But when the trial began on Monday he stunned the court by admitting he had actually evaded five times that amount – or 18.5 million euros (£15.4m).
That figure was raised further to 27.2 million euros (£22.7m) on the second day of the trial based on testimony by a tax inspector. Hoeness’s defence team acknowledged the higher figure.
Hoeness said he would step down from his positions with the club in order to spare Bayern Munich, a team which last year won the Champions League and which dominates the German Bundesliga, any damage.
The club’s earnings have soared under his stewardship, which has lasted 35 years in various posts. With more than 220,000 members, it is one of the world’s biggest football clubs.
“Bayern Munich is my life’s work and will also remain so,” said Hoeness, who had been a friend of Chancellor Angela Merkel and a popular TV talk show guest. Ironically, he had spoken out for higher taxes and railed against tax evasion.
FC Bayern Munich AG is privately owned. Major German companies Adidas, Allianz and Audi, all of which are based in Bavaria, each have an 8.3 percent stake in the club. Deutsche Telekom is the club’s main advertising sponsor.
Members of the supervisory board include Adidas chief executive Herbert Hainer, Audi CEO Rupert Stadler, Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn and Deutsche Telekom CEO Tim Hoettges.
Later on Friday it was announced that Hainer will become the new president and business chairman.
Adidas, the world’s second largest maker of sporting gear, owns an 8.3 percent stake in the club and has provided its kits for over 50 years.
Hainer was previously deputy head of the supervisory board at Bayern Munich.