MUNICH: Tax cheat Uli Hoeness is to remain as president of the supervisory board of Bayern Munich until after the club completes its season with the Champions League Final on May 25 and German cup final on June 1 writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
A day-long meeting of the Bavarian club’s high-powered board decided to let Hoeness stay on for the next three weeks before a further decision is considered on whether he should step aside while his tax avoidance case is settled one way or another.
Fellow directors include the powerful – and shocked – chairmen of club sponsors Adidas, Volkswagen and Deutsche Telekom.
Hoeness, one of the most powerful men in German football, was arrested and released on €5m bail earlier this year for failing to declare income from a Swiss bank account which he had set up for his stock exchange dealings.
The revelation was a shock to German politics as well as sport because Hoeness had been an outspoken critic of business sharp practice. He had always been a long-time critic of FIFA president Sepp Blatter over the various bribery and vote-rigging scandals within the world federation.
The genesis of the affair was in 2000 when Hoeness was loaned between €10m and €15m by the then Adidas boss Robert Louis-Dreyfus to invest in the stock market. An account was opened at the Zurich-based Bank Vontobel AG.
The profits were apparently taxed in Switzerland but not as capital gains tax in Germany while a number of amnesties came and went.
Hoeness said in a weekend interview that he became virtually addicted the stock exchange ‘gambling’. When he took a flight the market prices were the last item he checked before boarding a plane and the first he checked on landing.
Adidas itself has denied that the cash provision was anything else than a private arraangements between Hoeness and Louis-Dreyfus, who was already seriously ill at the time and died in 2001. It will not have gone unnoticed, however, that at the time the two men were negotiation a long-term deal between football club and sponsor.
Sources close to Hoeness say that he, like other cross-border investors, had planned to capitalise on a new amnesty law. However a draft bill to ratify such a legal loophole was scrapped last autumn after parliamentary opposition from the Greens.
Thus in January Hoeness found himself telling all to the tax authorities.
Versions vary over who took the initiative. Hoeness, in a statement last April 21, said: “I filed a voluntary disclosure about the account to my accountant at the tax office in January 2013. I trust fully in the work of the authorities involved in the case.”
However it has emerged that he was place formally under arrest and secured his release on €5m bail. If the case of tax evasion goes to court Hoeness – a World Cup and Champions Cup winning star of West Germany and Bayern in the 1970s – could face not only a multi-million fine but a jail sentence.
The board may seek to reinstall Franz Beckenbauer as formal president of the board. Beckenbauer stepped aside four years ago in favour of then general manager Hoeness after frequent absences from the club on FIFA duty.
Bringing Beckenbauer back would, however, offer reassuring guarantees to the German sports business community.