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Prosecutor Rejects Report That Steffi Graf Knew About Tax Evasion

April 24, 1996

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) _ A prosecutor on Wednesday disagreed with a report that Steffi Graf knew what happened to her earnings, allegedly funneled out of Germany for years by her father to avoid paying taxes.

Asked about the story that is to appear in the weekly Stern magazine Thursday, prosecutor Peter Wechsung in Mannheim said that based on his office’s investigation, ``we disagree with its conclusions.″

The story says that Graf family tax adviser, Joachim Eckardt, who is in jail and charged in the case, had provided prosecutors with information that Steffi Graf knew the details of what was happening to her money.

The magazine also said that former Graf family confidant, Horst Schmitt, informed Steffi about where her money was deposited in 1991, although the tennis star has told prosecutors she paid little attention to her financial affairs to concentrate on her game.

Wechsung said that Eckhardt had never been able to incriminate the tennis player in repeated questioning, and in one session he declined to discuss Steffi Graf’s role in the case.

Prosecutors a week ago charged Eckhardt and Graf’s father Peter Graf with failing to report $28 million of his daughter’s earnings to evade $13.3 million in taxes between 1987 and 1993.

Wechsung also said Wednesday that former family confidant Schmitt did not incriminate Steffi Graf during questioning, but rather told investigators that she was unaware of details on her financial situation, which were managed by her father.

Despite disagreement with the Stern report, Wechsung said the nearly year-long investigation continues.

The trial of Peter Graf and Eckhardt is expected to begin in late summer or early autumn, which could prevent the reigning and four-time U.S. Open champion from playing in that tournament.

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