The president of Bayern Munich football club has been jailed for three and a half years after admitting he evaded tax on millions of dollars of income.

Uli Hoeness sought leniency after admitting to court he taxes on $25.8m held in secret Swiss bank accounts. However, the judge in his trial, Rupert Heindl, ruled on Thursday that Hoeness's disclosure was incomplete and thus did not meet rules required for an amnesty under German laws designed to encourage tax evaders to come clean. 

I deeply regret my wrongdoing. I'm doing everything I can to put this unhappy chapter behind me

Uli Hoeness, Bayern Munich president

Hoeness, 62, bowed his head and stared at the floor when the verdict was delivered in Munich, his face turning red.

"In the name of the people, Mr Ulrich Hoeness is sentenced for seven
serious counts of tax evasion to a prison term of three years and six months,"
the judge said.

The case hinged on the question whether Hoeness, who as a player helped West Germany win the 1974 World Cup, fully co-operated with his voluntary disclosure. It shocked the nation and prompted thousands of other tax evaders to turn themselves in.

Prosecutors originally charged Hoeness with evading tax on $4.8m of earnings. But on the first day of the trial Hoeness stunned the court by admitting the figure was $25.8m.

Hoeness apologised to the court and pleaded for leniency.

"I deeply regret my wrongdoing," he said on Monday. "I'm doing everything I can to put this unhappy chapter behind me."

Prosecutors had demanded a sentence of five and a half years' jail.

Tax evasion is a serious crime in Germany. Peter Graf, the late father of tennis champion Steffi Graf, was sentenced in 1997 to three years and nine months for evading $8.78m. He was released after 25 months.

Source: Reuters