German prosecutors raid tax office over Hoeness leak

BERLIN Thu Jan 23, 2014 7:11am EST

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BERLIN Jan 23 (Reuters) - German prosecutors conducted raids on Bavarian tax authorities on Thursday as part of a probe into the leaking of confidential records of Uli Hoeness, the Bayern Munich soccer club president who stunned Germany last year by admitting to tax dodging.

In a statement, prosecutors in Munich said they were acting on a complaint by Hoeness, who admitted to authorities last January that he had not paid taxes on assets stashed in a secret Swiss bank account and was forced to go public with the admission three months later when confronted by journalists.

The raids suggest that prosecutors suspect officials at the Bavarian tax office of leaking the confidential information about Hoeness's tax records to the journalists, a crime that could carry a prison sentence of up to five years.

Hoeness, a former soccer star who has spent more than 40 years at Bayern as a player, manager and president and is known for his outspoken opinions on sports and politics, is due to go on trial for tax evasion in March.

He has received strong backing from Germany's richest and most successful soccer club, whose board ruled in May that Hoeness should stay on as president despite the admission of tax evasion and subsequent investigation.

In November, at the club's annual general meeting, Bayern posted its best financial results in 113 years. Hoeness broke down in tears after he was greeted with chants of "Uli, Uli" and received several standing ovations. (Reporting by Noah Barkin; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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