Former tennis world No. 1 Boris Becker was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison by a British court on Friday for financial crimes related to his personal bankruptcy and is due to be jailed in the process.
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Boris Becker, 54, was found guilty, in particular, of having concealed 2.5 million pounds sterling (more than 4 million Canadian dollars) in assets and loans to avoid paying his debts.
He will have to serve half of his sentence behind bars before he is eligible for parole.
Boris Becker arrived in a London taxi on Friday morning at court, walking hand in hand with his partner Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro, before returning to the building. Serious-faced, he wore a purple and green tie, the colors of Wimbledon, while his eldest son, Noah, 28, walked in with a sports bag.
Filed for personal bankruptcy in 2017, the six-time Grand Slam winner, who has lived in the UK since 2012, was found guilty on April 8 by London’s Southwark Crown Court of concealing assets or transferring funds to escape their debts.
“Boris Becker’s conviction makes it clear that hiding assets in bankruptcy is a serious crime for which we will prosecute offenders and bring them to justice,” said the chief executive of the Insolvency Service, a British government agency responsible for administering bankruptcies.
Twenty years ago, Boris Becker was sentenced in Germany to conditional imprisonment after disputes with the tax authorities. A warning that the British judge Deborah Taylor criticized for not having taken into account.
“He has shown no remorse or acceptance of his guilt and has sought to distance himself from his offenses and his bankruptcy,” Judge Deborah Taylor launched, considering that Boris Becker has shown “no humility.”
According to his lawyer Jonathan Laidlaw, “his reputation is in tatters”, “he will not be able to find work and will have to depend on the charity of others to survive”.
Boris Becker, who denies all charges, had been acquitted of 20 other charges, including those related to the disappearance of his trophies. He had assured the audience that he did not know where they were.
Among the nine accolades creditors would have liked to get their hands on were two of her three Wimbledon cups, two Australian Open trophies and her doubles gold at the 1992 Olympics.
The former tennis player said during the trial, which was held from March 21 to April 8, that she still has “many” of the prizes and memories accumulated in 15 years on the circuit, but some have disappeared.
It had already auctioned part of its awards for 700,000 pounds (1.13 million Canadian dollars) to pay off some of its debts.
At the time of its bankruptcy, its debts were estimated at up to £50m (CAN$80.7m).
Tarnished “Becker brand”
The announcement of his bankruptcy came a few days before the Wimbledon tournament, where the first German player to win a Grand Slam title was working for the BBC and Australian and Japanese television.
At the hearing, he had said how much he had been “shocked by the situation”. “It was all over the news, I walked through the Wimbledon gates and everyone knew it. I was embarrassed because I was broke,” he said.
According to him, his bankruptcy and his treatment in the media damaged the “Becker brand”, so much so that he later had difficulty paying his debts.
This is not the first case of Boris Becker, a restless athlete, who had lived in Monaco and Switzerland before settling in England.
He has already had legal setbacks for non-payment of debts with the Spanish justice, related to work in his villa in Mallorca, and with the Swiss justice, for not having paid the priest who married him in 2009.
In 2002, German courts sentenced him to a two-year suspended prison sentence and a €500,000 fine for some €1.7 million in back taxes.