Former tennis champion Boris Becker gets jail sentence in UK bankruptcy case

Boris Becker, a former German tennis player, was sentenced to two years and six months in prison by a London court on Friday for concealing hundreds of millions of pounds in assets after being declared bankrupt.

Following a bankruptcy trial, Becker was found guilty of four offences under the UK’s Insolvency Act, including failing to disclose, hiding, and taking significant assets.

After his 2017 bankruptcy, the 54-year-old six-time Grand Slam champion was found guilty of transferring money to his ex-wife Barbara and estranged wife Sharlely.

“It is notable you have not shown remorse or acceptance of your guilt,” judge Deborah Taylor told him as she sentenced him at London’s Southwark Crown Court.

“While I accept the humiliation you have felt as a result of these proceedings, you have shown no humility.”

Becker would serve half of his sentence in prison and the other half on probation, she said. Becker, who was in court with his spouse Lillian and kid Noah, gazed straight ahead and showed no expression as the sentence was read.

In 2002, he was convicted of tax evasion in Germany and sentenced to a suspended prison sentence.

Becker’s career was detailed at the trial, as was how the former world number one, who won the Wimbledon tournament three times, squandered his riches after retiring.

He said he didn’t know where some of his trophies were, got a high-interest loan from one of Britain’s wealthiest businesspeople, and tried to avoid bankruptcy by claiming diplomatic protection from the Central African Republic, according to the verdict.

As he pleaded for clemency, Becker’s lawyer, Jonathan Laidlaw, told the court that the tennis player had “essentially nothing to show for what was the most sparkling of sporting careers” and that his situation was “nothing short of tragedy.”

Becker was the youngest and first unseeded player to win the men’s singles title at Wimbledon when he won it at the age of 17 in 1985. He went on to win two more Wimbledon championships.

On Friday, Becker walked on court dressed in the purple and green of the Wimbledon event.

Becker was accused of “playing the system with bad faith” by concealing and transferring assets, and of depriving creditors of more than 2 million pounds ($2.51 million) in assets, none of which had yet been paid back, according to prosecutor Rebecca Chalkley.

“When it suited him, he made full disclosure, when it didn’t, he didn’t,” she said as she urged the judge to pass a custodial sentence.

The former tennis champion was declared bankrupt due to a debt owed to private bankers Arbuthnot Latham & Co, and he was required to disclose full asset disclosure under the rules of the bankruptcy judgement.

He was found guilty of concealing an 825,000 euro bank loan and shares in a Canadian technology firm by failing to report a property in Germany.

“We have noted the verdict regarding Boris Becker with regret,” said the German Tennis Federation (DTB). “We wish him a lot of strength for the future. He will forever be part of our tennis family.”

Becker, who was the DTB’s head of men’s tennis from 2017 to 2020, had disputed all the allegations, claiming that he had cooperated with the bankruptcy proceedings – even giving up his wedding band – and depended on his counsel.

Becker was acquitted on 20 other charges at his trial, including allegations that he failed to turn over other valuables, including two Wimbledon trophies and an Olympic gold medal.

“His reputation, an essential part of the brand, which gives him work, is in tatters,” Laidlaw said. “His fall is not simply a fall from grace and amounts to the most public of humiliations.”