Bayern chief set for jail term as prosecutors nix appeal

March 17, 2014 - 5:32:17 pm

BERLIN: German prosecutors said Monday they won't appeal the tax fraud verdict against football legend Uli Hoeness, former boss of powerhouse Bayern Munich, freeing the way for his jail term to begin.

Hoeness, 62, who spent four decades at the champion club, will in coming weeks start a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence handed down by a court last Thursday, which he has also said he will not contest.

The Bayern chief is currently due to serve his term in Landsberg prison in southern Bavaria state, prosecution spokesman Ken Heidenreich told AFP.

That is the jail where Adolf Hitler wrote "Mein Kampf" while serving a sentence for treason after the failed 1923 Beer Hall Putsch uprising in Munich.

A Munich court sentenced Hoeness for having cheated the state out of 28.5 million euros ($39.5 million) after a spectacular four-day trial that riveted football-obsessed Germany.

He admitted to hiding his wealth in secret Swiss bank accounts while obsessively "gambling" on stock and currency markets for years before seeking to come clean in return for immunity from prosecution.

But his January 2013 attempt to turn himself in to authorities was deemed too little too late.

Prosecutors originally suspected the tax fraud case to amount to about 3.5 million euros, but on the trial's opening day Hoeness admitted it was more in the realm of 18.5 million euros.

A day later that figure again jumped, this time to 27.2 million euros, before the court recalculated it 28.5 million euros.

The prosecution had said it would mull appealing Hoeness' sentence, having called for a longer jail term of five and a half years, but it announced Monday it had decided against.

"The Munich II public prosecutor's office will, in the criminal proceedings against Ulrich Hoeness over tax fraud, not file an appeal against the verdict," its statement said.

No date has yet been fixed for Hoeness, who also runs a successful sausage business, to begin his jail term, but it is expected to start in the coming weeks.

"The district court's verdict is justifiable," said Florian Gliwitzky, a spokesman for the public prosecutor's office.


'Mistake of my life'

Heidenreich told AFP that he assumed Hoeness would receive the same treatment in Landsberg prison as other inmates.

He was unable to say exactly when Hoeness' jail time would begin as the prosecution service would first have to receive the written verdict.

"It will take a few weeks," he said.

After Thursday's court ruling, Hoeness walked out of the courtroom in the southern city of Munich, pending his initially planned appeal.

But a day later, a remorseful Hoeness said he would forego appealing the sentence and resigned from his posts as president and board chairman of Bayern Munich.

"Tax evasion was the mistake of my life," he said in a statement, adding that his decision not to appeal corresponded to his understanding of "decency, conduct and personal responsibility".

Bayern Munich have since named successors to Hoeness, with Adidas chairman Herbert Hainer taking over as interim board chairman.

Hoeness has spent more than four decades with the Bavarian sporting giants -- first as player, helping win then West Germany the 1974 World Cup, then as team manager and, since 2009, as club president.

Bayern became Germany's first side to win the treble titles of Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup last season.

News of the scandal sent shockwaves in Germany where Hoeness was a hero to many young fans and was seen as a moral authority as a conservative commentator on TV talk shows. (AFP)