Daniel Vasella was in trouble for his taxes.
Nicholas ImfeldEditor Economics
Daniel Vasella (69) did not want to pay taxes in the canton of Zug in 2013 – because he is said to have moved his residence from Risch ZG to Monaco. The tax administration did not believe the ex-Novartis boss and multi-millionaire. Vasella defended herself against the tax assessment and was defeated by the Zug Administrative Court. The verdict is in sight.
Vasella is in good company with his tax tricks. Hollywood greats and football stars have to answer to the courts again and again. Unlike Vasella, most prominent cases involve tax fraud or tax evasion.
During his time at Real Madrid, the football star evaded around 15 million euros in taxes via letterbox companies. At the beginning, the Portuguese denied everything in court in Madrid. In 2019, Ronaldo (37) finally admitted to tax evasion, paid a fine of 19 million euros and was sentenced to 23 months and 30 days in prison. Because it is common in Spain for prison sentences of less than two years to be suspended, CR7 did not have to go to jail.
Alphonse Gabriel “Al Capone” (1899-1947) is one of the most notorious gangsters of the 1920s and 1930s. For a long time he controlled the underworld in Chicago (USA) and earned his money with gambling and prostitution. He was illegally dealing in alcohol when it was banned in the United States. Al Capone was popular with the population, and the authorities considered him Public Enemy No. 1. Because his crimes could not be proven at the time, Al Capone remained at large. Ironically, the crime legend ultimately stumbled upon tax evasion linked to money laundering. In 1931 he was sentenced to eleven years in prison.
He was president of FC Bayern Munich for a long time and would probably still be today if Uli Hoeness (71) had not evaded taxes. For years, the German speculated on a large scale on the stock exchange using a secret account with the Swiss bank Vontobel. In 2013 he reported himself to the tax office. A good year later, Hoeness was convicted by the Munich (D) district court of tax evasion (27 million euros) – the then Bayern boss had to go to prison for three and a half years and pay a fine of 40 million euros.
His arrest was broadcast live! In 2008, Klaus Zumwinkel (79) was taken away from his home in Cologne (D) by the police in front of the television cameras. Between 2002 and 2006, the former head of Deutsche Post evaded taxes amounting to almost one million euros through his foundation in Liechtenstein. In 2009, Zumwinkel was sentenced to two years’ probation and a fine of one million euros.
The American football star became known worldwide for a murder trial in the 1990s. OJ Simpson (75) has been accused of murdering his wife. At the time, tax evasion was also under investigation. Simpson is said to have evaded $1.4 million. But he could never be convicted because he put all his money in bank accounts in countries that have refused to provide information to the United States.
Argentina’s football god Lionel Messi (35) and his father Jorge (65) evaded taxes totaling 4.1 million euros between 2007 and 2009. Messi had set up shell companies in the tax havens of Belize and Uruguay to hide income. In 2016, a court in Barcelona sentenced Messi to 21 months’ imprisonment and a fine of 3.7 million euros. The verdict was upheld by the Spanish Supreme Court in 2017.
He made a name for himself as the King of Oil and was once considered the biggest tax evader in the USA: Glencore emerged from Marc Rich’s (1934-2013) company. In 1983 he fled to Switzerland because of a lawsuit and was wanted for years by the American authorities for tax evasion. He faced a prison sentence of over 300 years. Rich never returned to the United States. In 2001 he was pardoned by then US President Bill Clinton (76).
The tennis star deliberately gave false information in his tax returns in the early 1990s in order to evade 3.3 million German marks. Boris Becker (55) gave Monaco as his place of residence, among other things, although he lived in Munich. In 2002, the Munich Regional Court sentenced him to two years’ imprisonment on probation and a fine of 300,000 euros.
The Hollywood star was accused of tax fraud in 2006. Snipes (60) is said to have paid income tax that was far too low from 1999 to 2004 and also stolen almost twelve million US dollars in repayments by providing false information. In 2008, Snipes was sentenced to three years in prison for tax fraud in Florida (USA).