London, 29 April
German tennis giant Boris Becker was sentenced in a London court on Friday to two years and six months for hiding hundreds of thousands of pounds of property after he was declared bankrupt.
Earlier this month, Becker was convicted of four charges under British insolvency law, including non-disclosure, concealment and removal of significant assets following a bankruptcy trial.
The 54-year-old six-time Grand Slam champion has been found guilty of transferring money to his ex-wife Barbara and estranged wife Sharlely after bankruptcy in 2017.
“It is noticeable that you have not shown remorse or acceptance of your guilt,” Judge Deborah Taylor told him as she sentenced him in London’s Southwark Crown court.
“While I accept the humiliation you felt as a result of this process, you did not show any humility.” She said Becker would serve half of his sentence behind bars and the rest with permission. Becker, whose partner Lillian and son Noah were in court, looked straight ahead and showed no emotion while the sentence was handed down.
He was previously convicted of tax evasion in Germany in 2002, for which he received a suspended prison sentence.
CAREER IN RUINS
Details of Becker’s career and how the former world player, who won the Wimbledon three times, lost his fortune after retirement were heard at the trial.
The jury heard he claimed he did not know where some of his trophies were, how he took out a high-interest loan from one of Britain’s richest businessmen and tried to avoid bankruptcy by claiming he had diplomatic protection from the Central African Republic.
Becker’s lawyer, Jonathan Laidlaw, told the court that the tennis player had “literally nothing to show for what was the most brilliant of his sports career” and that his case was “nothing but tragedy” because he appealed for leniency.
When Becker won his first Wimbledon final in 1985 at the age of 17, he was the youngest and first baseless player to win a men’s singles title. He won two more titles at Wimbledon.
Becker wore a purple and green tie to the Wimbledon tournament as he appeared in court on Friday.
Prosecutor Rebecca Chalkley accused Becker of “playing with a system of bad faith” by concealing and transferring assets, and confiscated more than £ 2 million ($ 2.51 million) from creditors, none of which have been returned so far.
“When it suited him, he gave complete information, when he didn’t, he didn’t,” she said as she called on the judge to impose a prison sentence.
The former tennis champion went bankrupt due to a debt to private bankers Arbuthnot Latham & Co., and according to the provisions of the bankruptcy order, he was obliged to give full disclosure of the property.
He was convicted of failing to report assets in Germany, hiding a bank loan of 825,000 euros ($ 870,127) and shares of a Canadian technology company.
He dismissed all charges, saying he cooperated in the bankruptcy proceedings – he even offered his wedding ring – and relied on his advisers.
Becker was acquitted at trial on 20 other counts, including charges of failing to surrender other assets, including two Wimbledon trophies and an Olympic gold medal.
“His reputation, an essential part of the brand that gives him work, is in disarray,” Laidlaw said. “His fall is not just a fall from grace and represents the greatest number of public humiliations.” Reuters