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Tennis legend Boris Becker jailed after being found guilty in bankruptcy case

Tennis legend Boris Becker jailed after being found guilty in bankruptcy case
Former men’s world No 1 tennis player was declared bankrupt over unpaid loan of more than £3m on his estate in Mallorca, Spain

Tennis star Boris Becker, who concealed hundreds of thousands of pounds following his 2017 bankruptcy, has been jailed.

The three-time Wimbledon champion, 54, was found guilty of four charges under the Insolvency Act by a jury at Southwark Crown Court earlier this month, including removal of property, two counts of failing to disclose estate and concealing debt.

He was sentenced to two years and six months in prison at the same court on Friday.

In a plea for a suspended sentence, Becker’s lawyer had argued that the sporting star had already “lost literally everything”. But Judge Deborah Taylor said that, despite the humiliation Becker may have felt, he had “shown no humility” during the proceedings.

He remained silent as the sentencing was read, and glanced over to his son Noah and his partner Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro, who blew him a kiss as he was led to the cells below.

Becker will serve half of his sentence before being considered for release, Judge Taylor said.

A trial heard how Becker transferred 427,000 euros (£356,000) to nine recipients, including the accounts of his ex-wife Barbara Becker and estranged wife Sharlely “Lilly” Becker, the mother of his fourth child.

Becker also paid 48,000 euros (£40,000) for an ankle operation at a private clinic and spent 6,000 euros (£5,000) at a luxury golf resort in China, the court heard.

He was also convicted of failing to declare a property in his hometown of Leimen, and hiding an almost £700,000 bank loan and 75,000 shares in a tech firm Breaking Data Corp.

The German national, who has lived in the UK since 2012, was legally obliged to declare significant assets in his bankruptcy.

The six-time Grand Slam champion said he was “shocked” and “embarrassed” when he was declared bankrupt on 21 June 2017 over an unpaid loan of more than £3 million on his estate in Mallorca, Spain.

<p>Former German tennis ace Boris Becker chasing the ball in his match against Britain’s Mark Petchey at the Wimbledon Championships on 30 June 1997</p>

Former German tennis ace Boris Becker chasing the ball in his match against Britain’s Mark Petchey at the Wimbledon Championships on 30 June 1997

He was acquitted of a further 20 charges, including nine counts of failing to hand over trophies and medals from his tennis career.

Becker told jurors he did not know the whereabouts of the memorabilia, including two of his three Wimbledon men’s singles trophies, one of which he won during the 1985 title that catapulted him to stardom, aged 17.

The other prizes were his 1992 Olympic gold medal, Australian Open trophies from 1991 and 1996, the President’s Cup from 1985 and 1989, his 1989 Davis Cup trophy and a Davis Cup gold coin which he won in 1988.

Becker was also cleared of failing to declare a second German property, as well as his interest in the £2.5m Chelsea flat occupied by his daughter Anna Ermakova, who was conceived during Becker’s infamous sexual encounter with waitress Angela Ermakova at London restaurant Nobu in 1999.

<p>Boris Becker won the men’s singles tennis title at the 1986 Wimbledon Championships</p>

Boris Becker won the men’s singles tennis title at the 1986 Wimbledon Championships

Giving evidence during the trial, he said he earned a “vast amount” of money during his career, paying cash for a family home in Munich, a property in Miami, Florida, and the estate in Mallorca, which was worth about 50 million euros at the height of the property market.

But Becker, who went on to coach current world number one tennis player Novak Djokovic, work as a TV sports commentator and act as a brand ambassador for firms including Puma, said his income “reduced dramatically” following his retirement in 1999.

He said he was involved in an “expensive divorce” with ex-wife Barbara in 2001, involving high maintenance payments to their two sons, and had to support his daughter Anna and her mother in a deal which included the Chelsea flat.

Becker, who was resident in Monte Carlo and Switzerland before moving to the UK, said he had “expensive lifestyle commitments,” including his £22,000-a-month rented house in Wimbledon, southwest London.

<p>Boris Becker pictured with his girlfriend Lillian de Carvalho and son Noah Becker outside Southwark Crown Court in London</p>

Boris Becker pictured with his girlfriend Lillian de Carvalho and son Noah Becker outside Southwark Crown Court in London

He also owed the Swiss authorities five million francs (about £4 million) and separately just under one million euros (more than £800,000) in liabilities over a conviction for tax evasion and attempted tax evasion in Germany in 2002.

The court heard Becker’s bankruptcy resulted from a 4.6 million euro (about £3.85 million) loan from private bank Arbuthnot Latham in 2013, and £1.2 million, with a 25 per cent interest rate, borrowed from British businessman John Caudwell, who founded Phones 4u, the following year.

He said bad publicity had damaged “brand Becker”, meaning he struggled to make enough money to pay off his debts, while his QC Jonathan Laidlaw said at the time of his bankruptcy Becker was too “trusting and reliant” on his advisers.

Speaking ahead of the sentencing – to which Becker wore a tie in the green and purple colours of Wimbledon – Mr Laidlaw said his client had “lost literally everything” and “has has already paid an extremely heavy price both for the mismanagement of his financial affairs, which of course he has nobody to blame but himself, but also for his offending”.

He added: “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.”

Becker has experienced “not simply a fall from grace” but “the most public humiliation”, Mr Laidlaw said, adding: “The degree of his suffering, and it will continue, is punishment that no other bankrupt in this country is likely to ever experience.

“These proceedings have destroyed his career entirely and ruined any further prospect of earning an income. His reputation is in tatters. He will not be able to find work and will have to rely on the charity of others if he is to survive.”

Additional reporting by Press Association