March 14 (Bloomberg) -- FC Bayern Munich’s Uli Hoeness won’t appeal his tax evasion conviction and 3 1/2 year prison sentence and will step down from the offices he holds at the club, according to a statement on its website.
Hoeness will resign as president of the soccer club and head of the supervisory board of Bayern Munich AG, the German champion’s commercial arm. He is taking the step to prevent the club from being damaged, Hoeness said in the statement.
“This corresponds to my understanding of integrity, decorum and personal responsibility,” he said in the statement. “Evading tax was the biggest mistake of my life. I accept the consequences of this mistake.”
The move comes one day after a Munich court convicted him of evading 28.5 million euros ($39.6 million) in tax. The case tainted the club’s main sponsors, Adidas AG, Deutsche Telekom AG, Allianz SE and Audi AG, a unit of Volkswagen AG. The chief executive officers of four of the five companies, excluding Allianz, sit on the soccer club’s supervisory board.
“I have a great deal of respect for his decision to accept the verdict,” Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, said at a news conference with business association leaders today.
Munich prosecutors will decide within the one-week deadline whether to appeal, their spokesman Ken Heidenreich said in an interview.
Hoeness is likely to serve his term in the Bavarian prison at Landsberg am Lech, where Adolf Hitler was incarcerated in the 1920s for attempting to overthrow the government. The soccer icon will only have to start his sentence after the possible appeals proceedings are over, Heidenreich said.
If prosecutors, who sought a longer sentence, decide not to appeal, they will order him to report to prison after they receive the written judgment from the Munich court, according to Heidenreich. The court has seven weeks to write it up.
Once in prison, Hoeness can ask to be allowed to work outside the prison during the day. After spending two-thirds of his term, he can be released on parole.
He can also make an early bid for that after half of his term, which will be granted if his behavior and other factors allow, Heidenreich said.
Allianz was criticized for investing 110 million euros last month to buy an 8.33 percent stake in FC Bayern amid the on-going tax case against Hoeness.
It said today that a judicial clarification of the case was necessary and that while it respects criticism of its investment, it doesn’t share the view.
“The court has ruled and Mr. Hoeness has taken the consequences, for which we have great respect,” the insurer said in a statement.’’
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