Wimbledon champion Boris Becker jailed for two-and-a-half years over bankruptcy

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Three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker has been sentenced (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)
Three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker has been sentenced (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)

Three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker has been jailed for two-and-a-half years for hiding £2.5million worth of assets and loans to avoid paying his debts.

The former world number one, 54, was declared bankrupt on June 21 2017, owing creditors almost £50m, over an unpaid loan of more than £3m on his estate in Mallorca, Spain.

BBC commentator Becker transferred almost 427,000 euros (around £390,000) from his business account to others, including those of his ex-wife Barbara and estranged wife Sharlely “Lilly” Becker.

Becker, arrived at Southwark Crown Court alongside partner Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) (PA Wire)
Becker, arrived at Southwark Crown Court alongside partner Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) (PA Wire)

The father-of-four also failed to declare his share in a £1m property in his home town of Leimen, Germany, hid an 825,000 euro (almost £700,000) bank loan – worth £1.1m with interest – and concealed 75,000 shares in a tech firm, valued at £66,000.

Becker, who was handed a two-year suspended sentence for tax evasion and attempted tax evasion worth 1.7million euro (around £1.4m) in Germany in 2002, was found guilty of four offences under the Insolvency Act between June 21 and October 3 2017 earlier this month.

Judge Deborah Taylor sentenced the six-time Grand Slam singles champion to two-and-a-half years imprisonment, of which he will serve half, at Southwark Crown Court on Friday.

Referring to his previous conviction, the judge said: “You did not heed the warning you were given and the chance you were given by the suspended sentence and that is a significant aggravating factor.”

“While I accept your humiliation as part of the proceedings, there has been no humility.”

Judge Deborah Taylor

She told Becker: “I take into account what has been described as your fall from grace.

“You have lost your career and reputation and all of your property as a result of your bankruptcy.”

But she added: “You have not shown remorse, acceptance of your guilt and have sought to distance yourself from your offending and your bankruptcy.

“While I accept your humiliation as part of the proceedings, there has been no humility.”

Becker, wearing a striped tie in the Wimbledon colours of purple and green, showed no emotion before being taken down to the cells.

He earlier arrived holding the hand of partner Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro, while his eldest son Noah was also in court.

Boris Becker had coached Novak Djokovic (Scott Heavey/PA) (PA Archive)
Boris Becker had coached Novak Djokovic (Scott Heavey/PA) (PA Archive)

Following his retirement, Becker coached current men’s world number one Novak Djokovic, worked as a TV sports commentator for broadcasters including the BBC and acted as a brand ambassador for firms such as Puma.

His barrister Jonathan Laidlaw QC said the tennis star’s “fall from grace” was “the most public humiliation”.

“Boris Becker has literally nothing and there is also nothing to show for what was the most glittering of sporting careers and that is correctly termed as nothing short of a tragedy,” he said.

“These proceedings have destroyed his career entirely and ruined any further prospect of earning an income.

“His reputation is in tatters. He will not be able to find work and will have to rely on the charity of others if he is to survive.”

Becker told jurors his 50million US dollar (about £38m) career earnings were swallowed up by an expensive divorce to his first wife Barbara, child maintenance payments and “expensive lifestyle commitments”.

Boris Becker’s partner Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro leaving Southwark Crown Court, in London, after he was jailed (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) (PA Wire)
Boris Becker’s partner Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro leaving Southwark Crown Court, in London, after he was jailed (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) (PA Wire)

The German national, who has lived in the UK since 2012, said he was “shocked” and “embarrassed” when he was declared bankrupt.

He claimed he had co-operated with trustees tasked with securing his assets, even offering up his wedding ring, and relied on the advisers who managed his life.

However, Becker was found guilty of four charges, including removal of property, two counts of failing to disclose estate and concealing debt.

Prosecutor Rebecca Chalkley said the jury had found he acted “deliberately and dishonestly” but added: “Even now, Mr Becker is still seeking to blame others when it was obviously his duty.”

The court heard he received 1.13million euros (about £950,000) from the sale of a Mercedes car dealership he owned in Germany into a business account used as his “piggy bank” for his personal expenses.

They included £7,600 on children’s school fees, almost £1,000 at Harrods, and payments made to Ralph Lauren, Porsche, Ocado and a Chelsea children’s club.

Boris Becker with his family after winning the men’s singles title at Wimbledon aged 17 in 1985 (PA) (PA Archive)
Boris Becker with his family after winning the men’s singles title at Wimbledon aged 17 in 1985 (PA) (PA Archive)

He also paid 48,000 euros (around £40,000) for an ankle operation at a private Swiss clinic and spent 6,000 euros (around £5,000) at a luxury golf resort in China, the court heard.

Becker was acquitted of 20 charges, including nine counts of failing to hand over trophies and medals from his tennis career.

He said he did not know the whereabouts of the memorabilia, including the 1985 Wimbledon title that catapulted him to stardom, aged 17.

Becker was also cleared of failing to declare a second German property, as well as his interest in the £2.5 million Chelsea flat occupied by his daughter Anna Ermakova, who was conceived during Becker’s sexual encounter with waitress Angela Ermakova at London restaurant Nobu in 1999.

Mr Laidlaw said Becker had not spent money on a “lavish lifestyle” but used funds to pay child maintenance, lawyers, business expenses and rent.

“He was in desperate financial straits and what in essence he has done is exercised his own choice as to which creditors to pay, choosing or preferring to my monies to dependents rather than allowing the joint trustees to determine how those monies should be applied,” he added.

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