BERLIN Jan 23 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)