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Bayern boss contests Swiss account claims

Bayern Munich boss Uli Hoeness said on Thursday he will take legal action over allegations he hid more than a hundred million euros in a Swiss bank account, which he says amount to slander.

Bayern boss contests Swiss account claims
Hoeness has admitted avoiding tax. Photo: AFP

The 61-year-old Hoeness was last week charged with tax evasion by state prosecutors in Munich, after being arrested and released on bail in March, following a high-profile probe that has rocked German sport and politics.

Fresh allegations published by Stern news magazine on Wednesday said an anonymous informant had submitted new evidence to prosecutors in the tax evasion case against the Bayern Munich president.

Stern said the informant indicated Hoeness had spirited away €350 million into a secret Swiss bank account to evade paying tax in Germany – far more than the €15 to 20 million he had previously admitted to.

The report also claims a further three Swiss accounts have been linked to the Bayern boss. The club president vehemently denies these allegations and says he will fight to clear his name.

The Hoeness case blew open in January when the same paper reported it had discovered a Swiss account containing huge sums of money in the name of an unnamed important person in German football.

Not long after, Hoeness turned himself into tax authorities, but has always denied any connection between his decision and the initial Stern report.

Until now Hoeness has always openly admitted to wrongdoing. He admitted in a magazine interview published in April that he had stashed millions of euros away from the German taxman thanks to Switzerland's bank secrecy laws.

But, he told journalists at the FC-Bayern-Charity-Golfcup event on Thursday, these latest allegations – which he dismissed as “absurd untruths” – were a step too far.

“These things won't get any truer by repeating them. I've decided to take action against this now,” said Hoeneß. “I instructed my lawyer last night … to take action against this madness, to initiate libel proceedings.”

“They are monstrous allegations, I'm not putting up with it anymore. I'm going to fight it with every thing I have. I'm going on the offensive,” he warned.

A ruling on whether the case will go to trial is expected at the end of September.

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BANK

Credit Suisse slashes jobs, branches to move ‘online’

Credit Suisse, Switzerland's second-biggest bank, said Tuesday it would reorientate its domestic services towards digital banking, with a quarter of its Swiss branches to close and hundreds of jobs at risk.

Credit Suisse slashes jobs, branches to move 'online'
A Credit Suisse branch. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

“In the last two years alone, use of online banking at Credit Suisse has grown by approximately 40 percent, while the use of mobile banking has more than doubled,” the bank said in a statement.

“The COVID-19 crisis has further accelerated these trends. In contrast, the number of visits to branches has been declining for years.

“Credit Suisse will introduce a new digital offering and a future-oriented branch concept at the end of October.”

The bank also plans to merge the activities of regional subsidiary Neue Aargauer Bank with those under the Credit Suisse brand to avoid duplication.

READ: How to open a bank account in Switzerland 

With its realignment, the bank intends to reduce annual costs by around 100 million Swiss francs ($110 million, 93 million euros) from 2022 onwards. It plans to cut the number of bank branches from 146 to 109.

Meanwhile up to 500 jobs could be axed, Andre Helfenstein, head of the bank's operations within Switzerland, told reporters during a conference call.

The restructuring costs are expected to be 75 million Swiss francs. “Digitalisation is happening all around us,” Helfenstein said in a statement.

“The changes we are making to our branch network — while simultaneously investing in digital solutions and in advisory services for clients with more complex needs — represent a logical step forward.”

In late July, the bank's new chief executive Thomas Gottstein unveiled his plans for Credit Suisse, which involved regrouping its different investment bank activities.

Gottstein took charge in February after Tidjane Thiam was ousted over a massive spying scandal.

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