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By ESPN Staff

Hiddink avoids jail, fined for tax fraud

DEN BOSCH, Netherlands -- A Dutch court handed Dutch soccer coach Guus Hiddink a six-month suspended sentence and fined him 45,000 euros ($59,270) on Tuesday after finding him guilty of tax fraud.

Hiddink, who now coaches the Russian national team, was accused of evading almost 1.4 million euros in Dutch taxes by falsely claiming to be a resident of Belgium in 2002 and 2003.

The fine was the maximum the court could have imposed, Dutch media reported.

Earlier this month prosecutors demanded a 10-month prison sentence for Hiddink, who was not in court to hear the verdict, dismissing his claims that he had been living in Belgium where the tax rate is much lower as "a joke".

From 2000 to 2002 Hiddink was in charge of the South Korean national side, guiding the World Cup co-hosts to fourth place at the 2002 finals. He then returned to the Netherlands and accepted a coaching job with PSV Eindhoven.

Hiddink's case came to the attention of Dutch tax fraud inspectors after telephone conversations with a former PSV director were monitored by wire taps in a criminal investigation into the PSV director some years ago.

During the trial Hiddink admitted that he never spent a night in his house in Belgium but also denied that he lived with his girlfriend in Amsterdam.

He said he had instead slept in a number of different places -- in hotels, at his girlfriend's home, at the training ground of PSV Eindhoven, whom he was also coaching at the time, and sometimes even behind the wheel of his car.