Former tennis champion Becker jailed in British bankruptcy case

  • Ex-tennis star imprisoned in London court
  • Baker was convicted of bankruptcy
  • The judge says he showed no humility
  • His lawyer says Baker’s reputation is ‘in tatters’

LONDON (Reuters) – A London court on Friday sentenced Boris Becker, the famous German tennis player, to two years and six months 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, concealment and removal of critical assets following a bankruptcy trial.

The 54-year-old, six-times Grand Slam champion, was convicted of funneling money to his ex-wife Barbara and estranged wife Charlie after his 2017 bankruptcy.

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When sentencing him at Southwark Crown Court in London, Judge Deborah Taylor told him: “It is noteworthy that you did not show remorse or guilt.”

“While I accept the humiliation you felt as a result of these actions, you showed no humility.”

She said Baker would serve half of his sentence behind bars and the rest on licence. Baker, whose partner Lillian and son Noah were in court, looked straight ahead and showed no emotion at sentencing.

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

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

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

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Becker’s attorney, Jonathan Ladlow, had told the court that the tennis player had left “literally nothing to show for what was the sport’s most illustrious career” and that his case was “nothing short of a tragedy” as he called for leniency.

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

Becker wore a purple and green tie for Wimbledon as he appeared in court on Friday.

Prosecutor Rebecca Chalkley has accused Baker of “manipulating the system in bad faith” by hiding and transferring assets, and has deprived creditors of more than 2 million pounds ($2.51 million) of assets, none of which has yet been repaid.

“When it suited him, he disclosed fully, and when it was not, he did not,” she said, urging the judge to issue a prison sentence.

The former tennis champion was bankrupt due to a debt to private bankers Arbuthnot Latham & Co and, under the terms of the bankruptcy order, was required to file a 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.

He had denied all charges against him, saying that he cooperated with bankruptcy proceedings – he even gave his wedding ring – and relied on his advisers.

Becker was acquitted at a trial of 20 other charges, including accusations that he failed to hand over other assets, including Wimbledon cups and an Olympic gold medal.

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“His reputation, an essential part of the brand that gives him the business, is in tatters,” Laidlaw said. “His fall is not merely a fall from grace and reaches the point of humiliation among the public.”

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Reporting by Andrew McCaskill. Editing by John Boyle and Nick McPhee

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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