|Uli Hoeness in court|
The 62-year-old Hoeness, one of the most powerful figures in German soccer, was initially charged with dodging 3.5 million euros ($4.85 million) in taxes through the Swiss account.
But when his trial opened Monday he admitted to avoiding 15 million euros more. Then it cameout through an examination of documents he provided to investigators shortly before the trial that he owed 27.2 million euros in total - a number Hoeness did not dispute.
|Celeberating the treble last year with Bayern|
SO, WHAT'S GOING ON? YOUR FULL GUIDE TO THE TRIAL...
Uli Hoeness has just been found guilty of tax evasion by a German court and sentenced to three and a half years in jail. But, unless you’ve been following the trial closely, you may have a few questions. Like who is he, what has he done, and why does it matter?
Who is Uli Hoeness?
Winner of the World Cup, European Championship and three European cups as a player with Germany and Bayern Munich, Hoeness is now the President of the most successful club in the world, having led Bayern to an unprecedented treble last season. He also part owns a sausage factory and has outspoken views about European football.
Outspoken views? Like what?
Hoeness has been highly critical of the super-rich clubs, in particular Manchester City and Paris Saint Germain. In fact, he was instrumental in the creation of the new financial fair play rules.
|Celeberating the European cup with Bayern|
But now he’s going to prison for tax evasion?
That’s right. Despite the prosecution calling for a five and a half year sentence the ex-footballer has only been given three and a half years. But that’s still a long time, considering Hoeness himself turned himself in.
Why did he do that?
The German authorities have been getting tough on tax evasion. Whether Hoeness knew they were investigating him or not, he seems to have come to the decision that any sentence would be less harsh if he cooperated. Although he said he was “aware that reporting myself doesn’t change this fact,” it seems clear that he hoped he would earn some sympathy from coming forward. So he didn’t try to defend himself, and actually seemed to help the prosecution.
He helped the prosecution in his own case. How does that work?
There isn’t a plea system in this type of case, but when the prosecution came forward with the suggestion that he had failed to pay €3.5m in taxes, he said the actual figure was more like €18m. He had hoped that he would be able to gain some form of amnesty by cooperating
But that didn’t work, did it?
No. The prosecution successfully argued that he hadn’t made a full enough disclosure early enough. The court then saw documents that suggested he should have paid €27.2m, and Hoeness admitted that he hadn’t come forward earlier because he hoped there would be a deal between Germany and Switzerland, where he held an account, for tax evaders.
Where does this leave Bayern?
Hoeness has been a hugely successful President since taking over from Franz Beckenbauer in 2009. The club have never been in better shape, currently 49 games unbeaten in the Bundesliga and into the quarter-finals of the Champions League. Their President’s trial doesn’t seem to have damaged performances so far, but it seems certain that Hoeness, permitted to remain in charge throughout the investigation, will be removed now. Whether that will lead to instability or not remains to be seen, but it can’t be good news.
And what about Germany as a whole?
Hoeness isn’t just a footballing figure, he’s a national icon, and a regular to TV chat shows. This case, and those like it, has already caused thousands more Germans to turn themselves in, while Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor and a political ally of the Bayern President, has spoken of her ‘disappointment’ in Hoeness’ actions.
By Jonny Singer
source DailyMail uk