Bayern Munich chief was arrested and bailed: report

23 April 2013 05:46

Bayern Munich's president Uli Hoeness, at the centre of a German tax evasion scandal, was temporarily arrested last month during a search of his home and released on five million euros ($6.5 million) bail, said a media report Tuesday.

Hoeness, whose case has become a political football in election-year Germany, earlier admitted to "a grave mistake" over his Swiss bank account and told the Bild Sport weekly that "I want to clear the air. The law offers that possibility."

But a report by the Sueddeutsche Zeitung pointed out that tax dodgers who voluntarily turn themselves in before they are in the crosshairs of the authorities are usually not arrested.

The Sueddeutsche reports in its Wednesday edition that Hoeness was temporarily arrested on March 20 during a search of his home and released by the Munich investigating prosecutors only after posting bail worth five million euros.

Under the terms of his bail Hoeness had to report to authorities twice a week, although this condition had now been lifted, said an advance version of the report. The newspaper said the charge on which Hoeness was arrested was not known.

The 61-year-old president of Germany's most successful club admitted in a media report last weekend to having first turned himself in to authorities in January over an unspecified amount of unpaid taxes on cash in a Swiss bank account.

Hoeness had originally planned to come forward after an expected German-Swiss tax accord which would have allowed him to settle the matter anonymously with a one-off payment, he told the Focus news weekly.

But Germany's political opposition -- which will seek to dethrone Merkel in a September election -- torpedoed the measure late last year on the grounds that it unfairly offered criminal amnesty to tax dodgers.

While Chancellor Angela Merkel has distanced herself from Hoeness, centre-left opposition politicians have seized on the case, charging that her conservative government is letting tax cheats off the hook too easily.

Hoeness told Wednesday's edition of Sport Bild: "I have realised that I made a grave mistake, for which I am trying to at least partially make amends by voluntarily turning myself in."

The opposition Social Democrats (SPD) chief Sigmar Gabriel said Monday the case "shows how right it was for the SPD and Greens to block the Swiss taxation agreement, with which Merkel and (Finance Minister Wolfgang) Schaeuble want to cover up multi-million euro tax evasion."

The amount of money Hoeness, who also draws income from a successful sausage company, has stashed in the Swiss account, and the taxes owed, were unclear as he and prosecutors have stayed quiet on the details, but were reported to be in the millions of euros.

Hoeness has already paid at least 3.2 million euros in back taxes to German authorities, according to news reports that have not cited sources.

Source: AFP