Tennis great Boris Becker found guilty in bankruptcy trial, could face jail
LONDON -- Tennis great Boris Becker could face a jail sentence after being found guilty on Friday of illicitly moving thousands of dollars from a bank account after he was declared bankrupt.
A jury at London's Southwark Crown Court convicted Becker on four charges under the Insolvency Act, including removal of property, concealing debt and two counts of failing to disclose estate.
The German star was found to have transferred hundreds of thousands of pounds (dollars) after his June 2017 bankruptcy from his business account to other accounts, including those of his ex-wife Barbara and estranged wife Sharlely "Lilly" Becker.
He was also convicted of failing to declare a property in Germany and hiding an 825,000 euro ($895,000) bank loan and shares in a tech firm.
He was acquitted on 20 other counts, including charges that he failed to hand over his many awards, including two Wimbledon trophies and an Olympic gold medal.
The six-time Grand Slam champion had denied all the charges, saying he had cooperated with trustees tasked with securing his assets -- even offering up his wedding ring -- and had acted on expert advice.
Becker's bankruptcy stemmed from a 4.6 million euro ($5 million) loan from a private bank in 2013, as well as about $1.6 million borrowed from a British businessman the year after, according to testimony at the trial.
During the trial Becker, 54, said his $50 million career earnings had been swallowed up by payments for an "expensive divorce" and debts when he lost large chunks of his income after retirement.
He said he had "expensive lifestyle commitments" including a house in Wimbledon that cost 22,000 pounds ($28,800) in rent each month. But he said bad publicity had damaged "brand Becker," making it hard for him to earn enough to pay off his debts.
"(It is) very difficult when you are bankrupt and in the headlines every week for it," he told the jury. "(It is) very difficult to make a lot of money with my name."
The charges carry a maximum sentence of seven years in prison. Becker was granted bail until a sentencing hearing on April 29.
Former Wimbledon champion Boris Becker has been jailed for two and a half years for hiding £2.5m worth of assets and loans to avoid paying debts.
The 54-year-old six-time Grand Slam champion was found guilty of four charges under the Insolvency Act.
The case centred on Becker's bankruptcy in June 2017 resulting from an unpaid loan of more than £3m on his luxury estate in Mallorca, Spain.
Judge Deborah Taylor said he had shown no remorse or acceptance of guilt.
Referring to Becker's previous conviction for tax evasion in Germany in 2002, she told Becker: "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...
"You 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."
Earlier this month, after about two weeks hearing evidence, jurors found Becker guilty of removal of property, two counts of failing to disclose estate and concealing debt.
They acquitted him on a further 20 charges, including nine counts of failing to hand over his tennis trophies and medals, including two from Wimbledon.
Becker's barrister Jonathan Laidlaw QC told the court the tennis star's "fall from grace" had left "his reputation in tatters".
He said: "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.
"These proceedings have destroyed his career entirely and ruined any further prospect of earning an income."