Tennis legend Boris Becker has been jailed after being found guilty of several offences under the Insolvency Act relating to his bankruptcy in 2017. The 54-year-old was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison at Southwark Crown Court on Friday after he was convicted of four charges earlier this month.
Becker, who won six Grand Slam titles over the course of his professional career, was declared bankrupt five years ago over an unpaid loan of more than £3million on his estate in Spain. He was later accused of hiding millions of pounds worth of assets, including two Wimbledon trophies, in an attempt to cover up his debts.
The Leimen native was acquitted of 20 counts but was found guilty of four charges, including removal of property, two counts of failing to disclose estate and concealing debt, by a jury on April 8. He claimed in his defence that he did not know the difference between his personal and business accounts and that he had mentioned properties in which he had a stake when it became clear they would be affected.
Becker went on to insist that he had liaised with trustees to secure his assets and that he had acted on expert advice.
His financial woes stemmed from a series of loans he took out to fund repairs to his holiday home in Mallorca. He was struggling to deal with the fallout of his divorce from his first wife as well as sending payments in support of a love child while continuing to keep up with his expensive lifestyle.
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Becker previously told the court that he was planning to stave off the threat of bankruptcy with the assistance of a hedge fund, but his hopes were dashed when he was hit with a High Court order back in 2017. He was later investigated over allegations that he had hidden two of his Wimbledon trophies and that he had been withdrawing funds in spite of his bankruptcy proceedings.
The German, who was supported in court throughout his trial by his partner Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro, was also faced with claims that he had failed to declare a series of properties in the UK and Germany. Becker’s defence attorney, Jonathan Laidlaw, pushed for a suspended sentence to be handed down to his client in an impassioned final plea to judge Deborah Taylor earlier on Friday.
“Boris Becker has literally nothing, and there’s nothing, to show for what was the most glittering of sporting careers, that is terms as nothing short of a tragedy,” he said. “His fall is not simply a fall from grace and amounts to the most public of humiliations of this man.
“The degree of suffering – and it will continue – is punishment no other bankrupt in this country is likely ever to experience. The attention of the press and the deeply unattractive scenes outside this court, particularly this morning, stand as testament to that.
“This process his destroyed his career entirely, and removed any future prospect of him earning an income. His reputation, an essential part of the brand which gives him work, is in tatters.
“He won’t be able to find work and will have to rely on the charity of others if he is to survive. I ask you please to suspend the sentence of imprisonment you must inevitably impose for these offences.”
However, Laidlaw’s plea to save Becker from jail ultimately failed to persuade the judge in spite of his best efforts, with the tennis legend now set to spend the next two-and-a-half years behind bars.
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