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Mar 10, 2014

Uli Hoeness tax evasion trial begins

Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness' trial over tax evasion charges began on Monday, with a verdict expected to be reached in four days' time.

Hoeness' trial has been the focus of media scrutiny in Germany.
Hoeness' trial has been the focus of media scrutiny in Germany.

Hoeness is accused of not paying tax following a voluntary disclosure filed in January 2013, which showed that Hoeness had not paid tax on 3.55 million euros in a Swiss bank account.

With the bill of indictment not made public before the opening of the trial, the first question on Monday will be whether Hoeness’ voluntary disclosure was filed completely and correctly, and thus, under German law, leads to exoneration from punishment. The 62-year-old  -- who admitted in January that he had made "a major mistake" -- claims this is the case.

Hoeness had filed the voluntary disclosure at a time when German news magazine Stern was already investigating a case of tax evasion by a high-ranking German football official. It is unclear whether Hoeness was made aware of this.

Should the Munich court decide that the voluntary disclosure was not filed to the required standard, Hoeness could be sentenced to up to five years in prison, or receive a suspended sentence with a signficant fine.

The Hoeness trial has dominated the German media, pushing the current crisis in Crimea down the news agenda. A total of 454 journalists had applied for an accreditation for the trial, with 49 granted access to the court room. Some 150 members of security staff guard the Munich court.

As a player, Hoeness won the 1972 European Championships and the World Cup two years later with West Germany, while he was also part of the Bayern side which won three consecutive European Cups between 1974 and 1976. 

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