Steffi Graf's father held over 'fraud'

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The Independent Online

The father of six-times Wimbledon champion Steffi Graf was yesterday arrested by German police on suspicion of tax evasion. Peter Graf, who has managed his daughter's financial affairs for years, was detained at the family mansion in Bruhl, which was raided by tax investigators in late May.

Announcing the arrest, Peter Wachsung, Chief Prosecutor in nearby Mannheim, said Ms Graf was also under investigation but that there were no grounds to issue an arrest warrant in her case. A family adviser is also being investigated.

He said Mr Graf, 57, had been placed under arrest because it was feared he might try to flee or conceal evidence.

Neither Peter nor Steffi Graf commented on the arrest. Both have adamantly denied the accusations in the past. None the less, the arrest of her father will intensify speculation that the 26-year-old world No 1, already plagued by back injuries, may soon retire from the sport.

Last month, she admitted she had lost sight of exactly how much she earned, but said she had "complete faith" in her father. Ms Graf, who won her sixth Wimbledon title earlier in the month, said her family was "the victim of a campaign".

Last night, the German national coach, Klaus Hofsaess, said Ms Graf was in America preparing for the US Open when her father was arrested. "It's the most difficult situation she has ever had to face," he said. But he did not think she would retire: "With appropriate support, she can continue."

According to reports in the German press, police believe Mr Graf may have transferred large sums of his daughter's sponsorship earnings into front companies set up in Amsterdam and Monte Carlo. Mr Graf has denied the allegations.

Future in doubt, page 24