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Sports News of Tuesday, 2 January 2001

Source: Reuters

Yeboah hit with ?130,000 tax-evasion fine

A German court convicted Hamburg SV striker Tony Yeboah on Tuesday of tax evasion and fined the Ghanaian 360,000 marks ($173,000).

The court ruled that Yeboah did not pay taxes on some 2.3 million marks of his income in 1993 when he played for Eintracht Frankfurt. The fine imposed by judge Klaus Wiens was 60,000 marks above the amount demanded by prosecutors.

Separate charges of abetting tax evasion against Yeboah, who was the German Bundesliga's top scorer in 1992 and 1993, were dropped. Yeboah had already paid the one million marks in due taxes in 1996.

"Yeboah knowingly accepted income worth 2.3 million marks that was concealed from the tax office and thus evaded taxes due," Wiens said.

Wiens said it appeared that Yeboah had played only a "limited role in the premeditated efforts" to evade taxes. Helping him to avoid a stiffer sentence was the fact that Yeboah had turned himself in to the tax authorities at the start of the investigation in 1996.

The judge added that the player's career had also suffered as a result of the case -- he has scored just one goal for Hamburg this year.

Prosecutors told the court during the trial's 23 sessions over the last five months that they believed Eintracht Frankfurt officials used a fictitious promotional contract to evade tax payments.

Yeboah, 34, had testified that Eintracht club bosses were to blame and had taken advantage of the fact that he knew nothing of Germany's complex tax system. German taxes are among the highest in Europe and tax laws are often rigorously enforced. Yeboah made no comment after the ruling. Hamburg SV manager Bernd Wehmeyer was among the first to congratulate Yeboah after the verdict was read out in the Frankfurt courtroom.

"The new year has started well," Wehmeyer said. "The end of the trial will give him new motivation on the pitch." Also accused on related charges are former Eintracht vice president Bernd Hoelzenbein, former treasurer Wolfgang Knispel and Yeboah's former tax adviser Johannes van Berk. Their trial will resume on January 15.