Former Bayern Munich boss Uli Hoeness begins sentence

Former Bayern Munich club president Uli Hoeness celebrates during the official Champions party in Munich (10 May 2014) Image copyright AP
Image caption Hoeness did not allow his conviction to stop him celebrating Bayern Munich's German championship party in May

Former Bayern Munich President Uli Hoeness has begun serving a three years and six months jail sentence for tax evasion, his lawyers say.

They say that Hoeness is serving his sentence at Landsberg am Lech prison in southern Germany.

He was found guilty of defrauding tax authorities of £22.5m in March.

Hoeness said at the time that his tax evasion "was the biggest mistake" of his life and that he accepted "the consequences of his mistake".

The former World Cup-winning Germany striker ruled out appealing against his conviction and resigned as president of his country's largest club.

His lawyer at the trial argued he should escape punishment because he gave himself up. But judges ruled that his confession fell short of full disclosure.

Hoeness was initially charged with evading 3.5m euros (£2.9m; $4.9m) in taxes but he then admitted to dodging another 15m euros.

It eventually emerged that he owed a total of 27.2m euros.

A court in the southern city of Munich found Hoeness guilty of "seven serious counts of tax evasion".

Bayern Munich fans gathered outside the court building for much of his trial, holding up banners expressing support for him.

The BBC's Stephen Evans in Berlin says that at the time of his sentencing it was significant because it indicated that attitudes towards tax evasion had changed in Germany since the financial crisis.

A string of famous people, perhaps not normally associated with cheating on tax, have recently been revealed to have had secret bank accounts, our correspondent reported.

Hoeness, a football legend, helped Germany win the 1972 European Championship and the World Cup two years later.

He came clean about his secret bank account last year, filing an amended tax return in the hope of an amnesty in return for paying the tax he owed.

But prosecutors said he did so because investigators were already pursuing his case.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Hoeness will begin his sentence in Landsberg am Lech prison
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Chancellor Angel Merkel was on good terms with the ex-footballer before the scandal emerged

Despite the tax evasion scandal, Hoeness remains a very popular figure at the club he helped build up.

He first offered his resignation at last year's annual meeting but was initially backed by the supporters and the club's board.

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