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Apr 22, 2013

Hoeness tax probe 'disappoints' Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel feels "disappointed" by Uli Hoeness following the revelation that the Bayern Munich president is being investigated for tax evasion, according to her spokesperson.

• Blog: Bayern's pre-Barca cruise

On Saturday morning the German news magazine Focus revealed that Hoeness filed a voluntary disclosure about a Swiss bank account, while also reporting that prosecutors had searched his private home in Bavaria in March.

Ever since the news broke at the weekend, German media has been speculating about the background of the voluntary disclosure. First reports in Munich based Abendzeitung hinted at "unbelievable amounts" of money, but later news reports narrowed it down to an amount of around €10 million on which Hoeness had allegedly not paid tax.

"A lot of people are disappointed by Uli Hoeness," Steffen Seibert, the government spokesperson, told the press in Berlin on Monday. "The Chancellor is among those people. And the disappointment is even bigger, given all the positive things he stands for."

The case of Hoeness has been dominating the headlines in Germany over the past few days, with Germany's biggest news programme, Tagesthemen, reporting on the "larger-than-life" president Uli Hoeness that "the fall could not be more spectacular", words which were echoed in many newspaper articles in the country.

The Bayern chief could even potentially face imprisonment if his voluntary disclosure is incomplete or was made at a time when Hoeness already knew about ongoing investigations. At the weekend, Hoeness did not travel to witness Bayern's 6-1 thrashing of Hannover on Saturday, but commented via the media the following day.

In Munchener Merkur Hoeness refused to comment on the current situation but threatened the press with legal action.

"I will fight the excesses in the media with the help of my lawyers," he is quoted as saying. Hoeness also announced it would get "really expensive" for an unnamed, Munich-based paper.

In Sueddeutsche Zeitung Hoeness said that, while not being allowed to comment on the matter at the moment, there was a lot on his mind he wanted to say and SportBild quoted him as saying: "I am not thinking about stepping down as director of the board or as president."

He also confirmed he plans to be at the Allianz Arena for the first leg of Bayern's Champions League semi-final tie against Barcelona on Tuesday.