Boris Becker jailed for UK bankruptcy

(Updated with details and author’s signature)

LONDON (Reuters) – A London court on Friday sentenced former German tennis champion Boris Becker to two years and six months in prison for hiding assets worth hundreds of thousands of pounds after he declared bankruptcy.

Baker was convicted earlier this month of four counts under British insolvency law, including failure to disclose, conceal and dispose of critical assets after a bankruptcy trial.

The six-time Grand Slam champion, 54, was convicted of funneling money to his ex-wife Barbara and his estranged wife Charlie after he went bankrupt in 2017.

“It is remarkable that he showed no remorse or admission of guilt,” Judge Deborah Taylor told him when he was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court in London.

He added, “While he recognized the humiliation he felt as a result of these measures, he did not show any humility.”

Baker will serve half of his sentence behind bars and the remainder on leave. Baker, whose partner Lillian and their son Noah were present at the court, stared straight ahead and showed no emotion at the sentencing.

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

devastating career

Details of Becker’s career and how the world number one, who won Wimbledon three times, lost his fortune after retiring at trial.

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

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Becker’s attorney, Jonathan Laidlow, had declared in court that the tennis player had left “literally nothing to show for what was the sport’s most illustrious career”.

When Becker won his first Wimbledon final in 1985, aged 17, he was the youngest and first unranked player to win the men’s singles title. Later, he won two more titles in the same tournament.

Becker wore a purple and green tie at Wimbledon when he appeared in court on Friday.

Prosecutor Rebecca Chalkley accused Baker of “using the system in bad faith” by hiding and transferring assets and depriving creditors of assets worth more than £2 million ($2.51 million), none of which has yet been returned.

“When it suited him, he declared everything; and when it was not, he did not,” he said, urging the judge to issue a prison sentence.

The former tennis champion was declared bankrupt in connection with debts to private bankers Arbuthnot Latham & Co and, under the terms of the bankruptcy order, required full disclosure of assets.

He was convicted of failing to advertise a property in Germany, hiding an 825,000-euro ($870,127) bank loan and shares in a Canadian technology company.

Baker denied all charges, stating that he cooperated with bankruptcy proceedings – including by offering his wedding ring – and that he trusted his advisors.

Becker was acquitted at trial on 20 other charges, including failing to surrender other property, including two Wimbledon cups and an Olympic gold medal.

“His reputation, an essential part of the brand that gives him the business, is in tatters,” Laidlaw said. “His fall is not just a fall from grace, it amounts to the greatest humiliation.” (Reporting by Andrew MacAskill, Editing in Spanish by Javier López de Lleida)

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