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Revealed: How long tennis legend Boris Becker could face in jail after court verdict

Former tennis player Boris Becker leaves after his bankruptcy offences trial at Southwark Crown Court in London, Britain, April 8, 2022. REUTERS/Peter Cziborra

Tennis star Boris Becker could face up to an extended spell in jail after he was found guilty of transferring hundreds of thousands of pounds from his business account following his 2017 bankruptcy.

The three-time Wimbledon champion, 54, was also convicted of failing to declare a property in Germany, hiding an 825,000 euro (almost £700,000) bank loan and shares in a tech firm and he now faces a maximum sentence of seven years behind bars.

Former world number one Becker told a jury how his 50 million US dollar (about £38 million) career earnings were swallowed up by an expensive divorce to his first wife Barbara Becker, child maintenance payments and “expensive lifestyle commitments”.

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

The German national, who has lived in the UK since 2012, claimed he had co-operated with trustees tasked with securing his assets, even offering up his wedding ring, and relied on the advisers who managed his life.

However, Becker, who was supported in court by his partner Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro and eldest son Noah, was found guilty of four charges under the Insolvency Act by a jury at Southwark Crown Court on Friday.

They include removal of property, two counts of failing to disclose estate and concealing debt.

Judge Deborah Taylor released Becker on conditional bail ahead of sentencing on April 29 when he could face a jail sentence carrying a maximum term of seven years on each count.

The BBC commentator did not respond to reporters’ questions as he left court with his partner and son.

The jury heard Becker received 1.13 million euros (about £950,000) from the sale of a Mercedes car dealership he owned in Germany, which was paid into a business account.

Prosecutor Rebecca Chalkley said he used the account as a “piggy bank” for personal expenses, including £7,600 on children’s school fees, almost £1,000 at Harrods, and payments made to Ralph Lauren, Porsche, Ocado and a Chelsea children’s club.

He was found guilty of transferring 427,00 euros (£356,000) to nine recipients, including the accounts of his ex-wife Barbara and estranged wife Sharlely “Lilly” Becker, the mother of his fourth child.

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

He was also convicted of failing to declare a property in his home town of Leimen, hiding an 825,000 euro (almost £700,000) bank loan on the house as well as 75,000 shares in tech firm Breaking Data Corp.

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

He told jurors he did not know the whereabouts of the memorabilia, including two of his three Wimbledon men’s singles trophies, including 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 cleared of failing to declare a second German property, as well as his interest in the £2.5 million 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.

Giving evidence, 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, south-west 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% 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.

Chief executive of the Insolvency Service, Dean Beale, said: “Today’s verdict confirms that Boris Becker failed to comply with his legal obligation to declare significant assets in his bankruptcy.

“This conviction serves as a clear warning to those who think they can hide their assets and get away with it. You will be found out and prosecuted.”

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