Former tennis champion Becker gets imprisoned in UK bankruptcy case

Boris Becker, a former German tennis player, was sentenced to two years and six months in prison by a London court on Friday for concealing hundreds of millions of pounds in assets after being declared bankrupt.

Following a bankruptcy trial, Becker was found guilty of four offences under the UK’s Insolvency Act, including failing to disclose, hiding, and taking significant assets.

After his 2017 bankruptcy, the 54-year-old six-time Grand Slam champion was found guilty of transferring money to his ex-wife Barbara and estranged wife Sharlely.

At London’s Southwark Crown Court, judge Deborah Taylor told him, “It is significant you have not demonstrated regret or recognition of your culpability.”

“While I understand your embarrassment as a result of these procedures, you have demonstrated no humility.”

Becker would serve half of his sentence in prison and the other half on probation, she said. Becker, who was in court with his spouse Lillian and kid Noah, gazed straight ahead and showed no expression as the sentence was read.

In 2002, he was convicted of tax evasion in Germany and sentenced to a suspended prison sentence.

Becker’s career was detailed at the trial, as was how the former world number one, who won the Wimbledon tournament three times, squandered his riches after retiring.

He said he didn’t know where some of his trophies were, got a high-interest loan from one of Britain’s wealthiest businesspeople, and tried to avoid bankruptcy by claiming diplomatic protection from the Central African Republic, according to the verdict.

As he pleaded for clemency, Becker’s lawyer, Jonathan Laidlaw, told the court that the tennis player had “essentially nothing to show for what was the most sparkling of sporting careers” and that his situation was “nothing short of tragedy.”

Becker was the youngest and first unseeded player to win the men’s singles title at Wimbledon when he won it at the age of 17 in 1985. He went on to win two more Wimbledon championships.

On Friday, Becker walked on court dressed in the purple and green of the Wimbledon event.

Becker was accused of “playing the system with bad faith” by concealing and transferring assets, and of depriving creditors of more than 2 million pounds ($2.51 million) in assets, none of which had yet been paid back, according to prosecutor Rebecca Chalkley.

“When it was convenient for him, he provided full disclosure; when it wasn’t, he didn’t,” she added, pleading with the judge to impose a prison sentence.

The former tennis champion was declared bankrupt in connection with a debt owed to private bankers Arbuthnot Latham & Co, and he was required to disclose all of his assets under the conditions of the bankruptcy judgment.

He was found guilty of concealing an 825,000 euro ($870,127) bank loan and shares in a Canadian technology firm by failing to report a property in Germany.

The German Tennis Federation (DTB) remarked, “We have observed the judgement involving Boris Becker with regret.” “We wish him the best of luck in the future. He will always be a member of our tennis family.”

Becker, who was the DTB’s head of men’s tennis from 2017 to 2020, had disputed all of the allegations, claiming that he had cooperated with the bankruptcy proceedings – even giving up his wedding band – and depended on his counsel.

Becker was acquitted on 20 other charges, including charges that he failed to turn over other valuables, including two Wimbledon trophies and an Olympic gold medal, during his trial.

“His reputation, which is an important element of the brand and provides him with work, is in shambles,” Laidlaw added. “His demise is more than just a fall from grace; it is the most public of humiliations.”

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