The 13 biggest tax evasion

The 13 biggest tax evaders

A foundation in Liechtenstein, a non-registered second home, front companies in tax havens – celebrities get creative when it comes to tax evasion. Since Uli Hoeneß are tax scandals again on everyone’s lips and he was of course not the only one who had forgotten a few statements in the tax return. Here are some of the most spectacular tax evasion schemes in recent decades.


Theo summer

Theo Sommer

Photo: Zerbor / Fotolia

The former “Zeit” editor Theo Sommer has evaded taxes between 2007 and 2011 in the amount of 649,000 euros. They would have come from an income from a freelance job.

Allegedly, he forgot to mention the revenue from “Fucking or sloppiness”. The deadlines for tax returns had not been so important to him. He was sentenced to one year and seven months probation in 2014. His fine of 20,000 euros he found painful, but appropriate.

Klaus Zumwinkel

 Klaus Zumwinkel

Photo: bierwirm / Fotolia

Klaus Zumwinkel was able to say goodbye to his Saubermann image as top manager of Swiss Post when it became known that he was driving around one million euros past the treasury to a Liechtenstein foundation.

He admitted in court and showed remorse for the tax evasion between 2001 and 2007. His sentence: one million euros fine and two years probation.

After his conviction, Zumwinkel left Germany with his family and has lived and worked in London ever since.

Boris Becker

 Boris Becker

Photo: James Phelps /

Live in Hamburg, but the residence in the tax haven Monaco log – a clever scam to evade taxes, thought himself former tennis pro Boris Becker.

1.7 million euros of taxes should have escaped the state between 1991 and 1993 so. Boris Becker was sentenced to a fine of 500,000 euros and a two-year sentence on probation. Nevertheless, Becker is pleased that he was convicted in 2002. According to today’s law, he would not have got away with a suspended sentence.

Lionel Messi

 Lionel Messi

Photo: Wael Mogherbi /

Hard to believe, but the flagship footballer Lionel Messi has been fighting for several years with tax rebates. It was only in May 2016 that he had to answer to the court for being accused of not having taxed advertising revenues of around 10 million between 2007 and 2009.

The state is said to have escaped almost 4.1 million euros. Messi plays the unsuspecting and blames his father. The tax authorities are demanding at least 22 months imprisonment for both father and son.

Peter Graf

 Peter Graf Peter Graf

Photo: yossarian6 / Fotolia

The father of tennis legend Steffi Graf concealed 12.3 million D-Mark profits from the German tax office. The sum he should have evaded between the years 1989 and 1993. Steffi Graf himself could credibly assure in court that she knew nothing of her father’s machinations.

He was finally sentenced in 1997 to a prison sentence of three years and nine months. However, he was only half of the time because he was released on bail from prison.

Paul Schockemoehle

 Paul Schockemoehle Paul Schockemöhle

Photo: Olaf Kosinsky /

“The luck of this earth lies on the backs of the horses” – that was no longer true for former top show jumper Paul Schockemöhle, when the “Steuer-CD” became public. Since he probably got scared then, he filed self-report.

Reason for it were 22.6 million marks, which migrated past the treasury to a foundation in Liechtenstein. Although the self-report had a mitigating effect, Schockemöhle was sentenced to 11 months’ imprisonment.

Wesley Snipes

 Wesley Snipes

Photo: Georges Biard /

The American actor Wesley Snipes is said to have paid from 1999 to 2004 too little income tax and have also received by false information repayments in the amount of about 12 million dollars.

In 2008, he was sentenced to 3 years’ imprisonment, which he initially did not have to pay due to a deposit. When his appeal was rejected in 2010, he was no longer around the prison sentence and sat from 9.12.2010 to 2.04.2013 in custody.

Uli Hoeneß

Uli Hoeneß

Photo: Usien /

Hardly any tax fraud has received as much attention in recent years as the case of Uli Hoeneß. The long-standing president of FC Bayern Munich confessed in March 2014, 18.5 million euros have evaded taxes. But calculations of a tax investigator resulted in a significantly higher sum: At least 28.5 million euros to Hoeness have withheld the state. He was sentenced to three and a half years’ imprisonment, which he took on June 2, 2014. At the end of February 2016 he was released due to his good behavior in detention.

Eduard Zwick

 Eduard Zwick

Photo: ROLF FISCHER / Fotolia

As a bathing king, the German-Romanian physician Eduard Zwick became famous, who became rich in Bavaria with spas. Only the doctor paid for years no taxes, so he accumulated at the tax office debts totaling 70 million marks. Before the tax office could collect the money, Zwick sat down in Switzerland. After the son took over the baths empire and 1996 delivered a partial confession, this was sentenced to a payment of DM 32.8 million and a suspended sentence of 22 months. Eduard Zwick died in 1998 and got away without penalty.

Gary Barlow

 Gary Barlow

Photo: Matt Deegan /

Take That is undoubtedly one of the most famous boy bands in the world, but in financial matters, Gary Barlow and his bandmates have not fared with fame. So they should have passed around 60 million pounds (the equivalent of 80 million euros) in the state. Barlow and his colleagues had invested tour revenues and proceeds from CD sales in two funds disguised as music investments and considered by the court as tax avoidance. The singers and their managers were sentenced in May 2015 to a tax arrears of 25 million euros.

Andreas Schmid

Andreas Schmid

Photo: kanzefar / Fotolia

Award-winning films such as “The Perfume” were funded by the VIP Media Fund, created by Andreas Schmid. He and his partner had raised 630 million euros in two film financing funds. However, only 20 percent went into production, the other 80 percent were on bank accounts of investors and was charged as a fixed-term deposit. All in all, the state would have escaped approximately 250 million euros in tax revenues. In 2007, Schmid was sentenced to six years imprisonment and a repayment in the millions. He was released on bail.

Flick Affair


In the post-war period, there was hardly a larger political and tax scandal than the Flick affair in the 1980s. High-ranking politicians and the Flick group were involved. The group sold Daimler shares worth 1.9 billion marks – and wanted a tax exemption of 986 million marks. This was agreed by the then finance and economic ministers. As it turned out later, they received considerable sums of money from the Flick group. The victims were fined and lost their jobs. Flick himself got away without conviction.

Silvio Berlusconi

 Silvio Berlusconi

Silvio Berlusconi is at the top of the ranking of the biggest tax evaders. For example, he allegedly evaded $ 470 million in taxes over front companies in the Caribbean by selling overpriced film and television rights. In 2013, he was sentenced to four years in prison. He did not have to face his prison sentence, instead he was allowed to serve her in the form of house arrest and social services. He was supposed to work for a few hours in a senior citizen’s home in Milan for a year, but his lawyers made it possible for him to finish social service 45 days earlier.

Germans do not understand rich tax evaders


Around 50 billion euros go to the state annually through tax evasion by the Lapp and the list of prominent tax fraudsters growing: top managers, top athletes or politicians are in the ranking to find.

Some are caught by the tax investigation, the others go themselves to the public.

And after all, 13 percent of Germans do not find it too bad, if the information in the tax return are not quite correct. However, when rich people evade taxes, 99 percent of those questioned do not find it morally wrong.