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Former FC Bayern Munich president starts jail term

The German football icon had hoped to avoid prison by making a voluntary disclosure Reuters

Uli Hoeness, the ex-president of Germany’s most prestigious football club, has begun a prison sentence of three and a half years for tax evasion relating to a secret Swiss bank account. He was handed the punishment in March and decided not to appeal.

His lawyers say he is serving his time at Landsberg am Lech prison in southern Germany.

At the opening of his trial earlier this year, Hoeness was charged by prosecutors with evading €3.5 million (CHF4.3 million) in taxes from trading profits.

However, the amount spiralled during the four days of the court case. Investigators put the amount to €27.2 million, which Hoeness’ lawyers did not contest.

The 62-year-old former football star apologised in court and pleaded for leniency.

However, the judge ruled Hoeness’ voluntarily disclosure in January 2013 – that he had failed to pay taxes – was incomplete and did not meet a requirement needed for amnesty.

“The voluntary disclosure is not valid with documents that were presented alone,” he said.

After the trial’s conclusion Hoeness said he would not appeal the ruling or sentence and would step down immediately as club president and as the chairman of its supervisory board.

Ripple effect

The trial became the most closely watched tax evasion case in German history.

Some 55,000 tax evaders have turned themselves in over the last four years and paid a total of about €3.5 billion in back tax, according to the German taxpayers association.

The number of voluntary disclosures rose four-fold in 2013 from the previous year.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR