Former tennis champion Becker convicted in British bankruptcy case

  • Former tennis star convicted by London court
  • Becker convicted of bankruptcy crimes
  • Judge says he showed no humility
  • Becker’s reputation ‘is in tatters’, says his lawyer

LONDON, April 29 (Reuters) – German tennis great Boris Becker was sentenced Friday by a London court to two years and six months in prison for hiding hundreds of thousands of pounds of assets after he was declared bankrupt.

Becker was convicted earlier this month on four charges under the UK’s Insolvency Act, including failure to disclose, conceal and remove key assets following bankruptcy proceedings.

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

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“It is remarkable that you have not shown remorse or accepted your guilt,” Judge Deborah Taylor told him when she sentenced him at London’s Southwark Crown Court.

“While I accept the humiliation you have felt as a result of this procedure, you have shown no humility.”

She said Becker would serve half of his sentence behind bars and the rest with a license. Becker, whose partner Lillian and son Noah were in court, looked straight ahead and showed no emotion as the verdict was handed down.

He had previously been convicted of tax evasion in Germany in 2002, for which he was given a suspended prison sentence.

The trial had heard details about Becker’s career and how the former world number one, who won the Wimbledon Championship three times, lost his fortune after retiring.

The jury heard how he claimed not to know the location of some of his trophies, how he took a high-interest loan from one of Britain’s wealthiest businessmen, and tried to avoid bankruptcy by claiming diplomatic protection. of the Central African Republic.

Becker’s attorney Jonathan Laidlaw had told the court the tennis player had “literally nothing to show for what was the most brilliant sporting career” and his case was “no less than a tragedy” when he asked for leniency.

When Becker won his first Wimbledon final in 1985 at the age of 17, he was the youngest and first unseeded player to claim the men’s singles title. He won two more Wimbledon titles.

Becker wore a tie in the purple and green colors of the Wimbledon tournament when he appeared in court on Friday.

Prosecutor Rebecca Chalkley accused Becker of “playing the system in bad faith” by concealing and transferring assets, and had robbed creditors of more than 2 million pounds ($2.51 million) in assets, none of which have so far some were refunded.

“When it suited him, he made full disclosure, when it didn’t, he didn’t,” she said, urging the judge to impose a custodial sentence.

The former tennis champion was declared bankrupt over a debt owed to private bankers Arbuthnot Latham & Co, and under the terms of the bankruptcy was required to provide full disclosure of assets.

He was convicted of failing to declare property in Germany, concealing an 825,000 euros ($870,127) bank loan and shares in a Canadian technology company.

“We are sorry to hear of the verdict regarding Boris Becker,” said the German Tennis Federation (DTB). “We wish him all the best for the future. He will forever be part of our tennis family.”

Becker, who was the DTB’s head of men’s tennis from 2017-2020, had denied all allegations, saying he had cooperated in bankruptcy proceedings – even offered his wedding ring – and relied on his advisers.

Becker was acquitted at trial of 20 other charges, including allegations that he failed to transfer other assets, including two Wimbledon trophies and an Olympic gold medal.

“His reputation, an essential part of the brand that gives him work, is in tatters,” Laidlaw said. “His fall is not simply a fall from grace and amounts to the most public humiliation.”

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Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; Editing by Jon Boyle, Nick Macfie and Christian Radnedge

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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