German soccer federation raided on suspicion of tax evasion

FRANKFURT – The headquarters of the German soccer federation and the private homes of some of its members were searched early Wednesday as part of an investigation into tax evasion.

The Frankfurt public prosecutor said about 200 officers were involved in the raids in the German states of Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse, Lower Saxony and Rhineland-Palatinate.

“The investigations into suspected fraudulent corporate and trade tax evasion in particularly serious cases are directed against six former or current officials of the DFB,“ public prosecutor Nadja Niesen said, referring to the soccer federation. “They are accused of deliberately wrongly declaring false income from perimeter advertising from home matches for the national soccer team from 2014 and 2015 as income from asset management.”

The German federation is suspected of avoiding paying taxes of about 4.7 million euros ($ 5.5 million) for the period.

The authorities did not name any suspects.

Wolfgang Niersbach was the president of the federation at the time. Niersbach resigned in November 2015 when he was implicated in financial wrongdoing tied to organizing the 2006 World Cup.

Niersbach was among four defendants — three officials from the 2006 World Cup organizing committee and a former FIFA secretary general — whose trial in Switzerland opened and then collapsed in April. A statute of limitations expired on some evidence amid difficulties running the trial during the coronavirus pandemic.

“From the previous investigations, it seems that the accused knew about these tax irregularities, but chose them consciously in order to give the DFB a large tax advantage,” Niesen said of the latest accusations.

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