Bayern Munich President Hoeness Charged With Tax Evasion

Uli Hoeness, the former German national team player who is now president of Bayern Munich soccer club, was charged with tax evasion after seeking amnesty earlier this year.

Hoeness, 61, was charged today after prosecutors concluded their probe yesterday, Andrea Titz, a spokeswoman for the Munich criminal courts, said in an e-mailed statement today. The court won’t release additional details on the charges because of German secrecy laws in criminal-tax cases.

“Before the court rules on whether the trial may be opened, no details of the charges can be communicated, especially since there are specific secrecy obligations in criminal tax probes,” she said.

Munich prosecutors started to investigate Hoeness for tax evasion after he reported himself to authorities in January in a bid for amnesty. He is the most prominent German to seek clemency after lawmakers rejected a treaty that would have ended the country’s practice of buying stolen Swiss bank data to uncover tax evaders.

Werner Leitner, Hoeness’s defense attorney, didn’t immediately reply to an e-mail seeking comment.

Hoeness was given a month to reply to the charges. The court will then have to decide whether the case will proceed to trial. That ruling is unlikely to come before the end of September, Titz said.

Huge Folly

Hoeness told German weekly Die Zeit in an interview in May that he committed a “huge folly” when he hid money in a Swiss account. Former Adidas AG Chief Executive Officer Robert Louis-Dreyfus lent him five million euros ($6.6 million) and acted as a guarantor for another loan of 15 million euros in 2001, Hoeness said. He used the money to “gamble” and “speculate” on the stock market, he said.

He later paid back the loans and kept profits from his investment in Switzerland without paying taxes on them, he said. His home, near the Tegernsee lake outside of Munich, was raided as part of the probe in March.

Hoeness made his fortune with sausages as the founder of the HoWe Wurstwaren KG factory that makes a version of the famous Nuremberger Rostbratwurst. When the probe became public in April, German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her disappointment at Hoeness’s actions.

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