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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Graf's Father Arrested for Tax Evasion

COMBINED REPORTS


BONN -- Steffi Graf's father has been arrested on suspicion of tax evasion, but German police said they had no reason to detain the six-time Wimbledon champion herself.


Peter Graf, who has handled his daughter's financial affairs for years, was seized at his home in Br--hl in southwestern Germany on Wednesday.


He was placed under arrest for fear he might flee or conceal evidence, Mannheim chief prosecutor Peter Wechsung said. The arrest was based on material that investigators found when they searched the homes of Graf and her father in May, he said.


The world's No. 1 player and a family adviser were also under investigation for tax evasion, but Wechsung said he had no plans to arrest the player.


"I can say clearly that there is no cause to issue an arrest warrant for Steffi Graf," he said. A lawyer for the Graf family declined to comment on the arrest.


Peter Graf, 57, has said that he delegated his daughter's finances to tax experts years ago.


Taxes are "a complex subject,'' Steffi Graf was recently quoted as telling the German news agency Deutsche Presse Agentur. "It's much too hard for me to understand. I put it into the hands of my father, or tax experts, a long time ago.''


She said she had no idea how much money she had earned for winning her sixth Wimbledon title last month.


Although she has houses abroad, including two homes in the United States, Graf, 26, is one of the few major German sports stars who has not sought a tax haven abroad.


Graf's squeaky-clean image has won her advertising contracts and she hasdone German television advertisements for shower gel, noodles and deodorant.


Earlier this summer, she launched a business venture at a fashion show in Berlin where she unveiled jeans, T-shirts and denim skirts with the inimitable "S" label.


Her father's arrest may revive memories of three years ago when he became embroiled in a blackmailing scandal with a topless model.


Peter Graf paid 800,000 Deutsche marks ($485,000) to keep an affair with the 23-year-old model quiet. He denied the relationship, saying he had paid the money in an attempt to protect his daughter from the publicity.


"For Steffi this is the most difficult situation she's ever had,'' said family friend Klaus Hofs?ss, trainer of the German national women's tennis team.


Asked on SAT-1 television if she might consider quitting tennis, Hofs?ss said the game was her "entire elixir of life'' but that now she needed support from friends and the public "so that she can deal with even this.''


The trainer said Graf had left for the United States on Tuesday to prepare for the U.S. Open.


Wechsung said police arrested Peter Graf on allegations that he did not file a tax return for four years. The warrant says that when he did file, reporting an income of 35 million marks, he paid only one-fifth of that in taxes. In Germany, one of the most heavily taxed countries in Europe, a 50 percent tax rate would be more normal in that income bracket.


At this level, tax experts say, fraud convictions usually carry a jail term.


Steffi Graf's income from tennis winnings -- including from 17 Grand Slam titles -- and endorsements in her 13-year career are estimated at 100 million marks. Unbeaten in 1995, she has won $1,388,855 this year in tennis appearances alone, although her season has been cut short by injuries. She recently pulled out of the San Diego Open, and had to cancel a doubles partnership with Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon.


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