Tax-evading German soccer boss Hoeness starts jail term -report

BERLIN, June 2 Mon Jun 2, 2014 6:02am EDT

BERLIN, June 2 (Reuters) - Former Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness began a 3-1/2-year jail sentence on Monday after being convicted in March of evading $40 million in taxes, German media reported on Monday.

The state prosecutor in Munich declined to comment on the report and said there would be no official confirmation.

Daily Bild reported Hoeness was set to enter the Landsberg prison, a jail with some 420 inmates that houses murderers, drug-dealers, and sex offenders. It is also where Adolf Hitler dictated his book "Mein Kampf" to Rudolf Hess while serving out a sentence for his failed 1923 beer hall putsch.

"Hoeness goes to jail today," read the headline on Bild's online edition. "Exactly 81 days after his conviction."

Once Germany's most famous soccer boss, Hoeness was convicted of evading 28.5 million euros in taxes on income earned in a secret Swiss bank account. He hoped in vain his voluntary disclosure would lead to a suspended sentence and has spent the last three months waiting to begin his term.

State prosecutor Ken Heidenreich declined to comment on the Bild report that Hoeness was about to begin serving his sentence on Monday at the 114-year-old prison.

"We will not make any public statement on that," Heidenreich said. "It's not something we would make public anyhow and there will not be any press release at any point. Herr Hoeness himself would be the person who could confirm that."

Munich-based magazine Focus said in mid-May that Hoeness, who has mostly kept a low profile since his conviction, would start his jail term in late May.

Hoeness, who played in the West German team that won the 1974 World Cup, resigned as chairman of the supervisory board and president of Bayern Munich after his conviction in one of the most spectacular tax evasion cases in post-war Germany.

His tax evasion shocked the nation and prompted thousands of tax dodgers to turn themselves in.

During his 35 years at Bayern Munich, Hoeness turned the club into a perennial powerhouse that dominates the German Bundesliga and won the 2013 Champions League. He also owns a Bavarian sausage factory.

Landsberg prison is about 70 km (45 miles) west of Munich. Prison officials took 160 journalists on a controversial tour inside the prison in March. [ID:nL5N0MS3KQ}

That triggered a political dispute in Bavaria about whether Hoeness's privacy had been violated.

His lawyers then sought to have Hoeness serve his time in a more modern prison due to concerns that other inmates or guards could peddle information or pictures of Hoeness to the media, Focus magazine also reported.

Hoeness said last month he hoping to return to the helm of Bayern Munich after serving his term. With good behaviour he could be released well before the end of his term.

The maximum sentence for tax evasion is 10 years and the prosecutors, citing Hoeness's cooperation, had sought a 5-1/2 year sentence. (writing by Erik Kirschbaum: editing by John Stonestreet)

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.