How did tennis legend Boris Becker end up in prison?

Boris Becker has struggled financially since he retired in 1999. The German tennis legend has now been sentenced to two and a half years in prison. What was he convicted of? What findings did the court make? Is he truly imprisoned?

Boris Becker is a household name in tennis, renowned for his flamboyant on-court style and high-flying off-court life. With six Grand Slam singles titles (three at Wimbledon, two at the Australian Open, and one at the US Open), and six major titles as Novak Djokovic’s coach, his word and opinion were highly regarded.

However, according to his barrister Jonathan Laidlaw QC, Becker’s “reputation is in tatters” following his two-and-a-half-year prison sentence for violating the terms of his bankruptcy in 2017 and concealing assets and loans worth millions in order to avoid repaying debts.

What was Boris Becker convicted of?

Southwark Crown Court in London found the former World No. 1 guilty of four Insolvency Act violations — removing property, failing to disclose estate on two counts, and concealing debt. Becker was discovered transferring hundreds of thousands of pounds from his business account to personal accounts, including those of his ex-wife Barbara and estranged wife Sharlely Becker, following his bankruptcy. Additionally, the 54-year-old German was convicted of failing to declare a residence in Germany and concealing a €825,000 bank loan and shares in a technology company.

Boris Becker was declared bankrupt for what reason?

legend Boris Becker
legend Boris Becker

Becker filed for bankruptcy in June 2017 in a London court. At the time, he owed a private banking firm, Arbuthnot Latham & Co, an estimated £3.3 million, according to The Guardian. He allegedly missed the repayment deadline by more than two years in 2017 and requested a 28-day delay in filing a lawsuit against him. In the interim, he hoped to sell his Mallorca property to recoup some of the debt. The bank’s registrar, on the other hand, reportedly refused, stating that “one gets the impression of a man with his head in the sand.

Becker will serve half of the sentence, according to Judge Deborah Taylor, who handed down the sentence.

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Becker made any attempt to raise money?

Yes. He began an auction in June 2018. The plan was to recoup the debt by selling memorabilia from his playing days, such as trophies and kits. He offered a total of 82 items for sale. The most expensive purchase was his 1989 US Open trophy, which he won in the final against Ivan Lendl. It was sold for £150,250 in July 2019. He also sold a £52,100 replica of a Davis Cup trophy he won.

Boris Becker went to great lengths to avoid serving his legal sentence

The most egregious act committed by the German was his claim of diplomatic immunity. Becker claimed in April 2018 that he had been appointed by the Central African Republic (CAR) – a landlocked country in central Africa – as the Sport and Culture Attache to the European Union.

International diplomats are immune from prosecution in a host country, including criminal and civil proceedings, under the 1961 Vienna Convention. Cherubin Moroubama, chief of staff at the Central African Republic’s foreign ministry, told Agence-France Presse (AFP): “The diplomatic passport that (Becker) possesses is a forgery.”

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Boris Becker has faced financial difficulties on a regular basis

Since 1999, when he retired, the German has struggled financially – whether through alimony or failed businesses. According to his ATP profile, he won $25,080,956 in prize money during his playing career, and his total wealth has been estimated to exceed $130 million through endorsement deals.

However, in 2001, the German government charged him with tax evasion totaling between £3.2 million and £10 million. Becker claimed at the time that he was living in Monaco, a tax-free haven. However, he was frequently seen at his Munich apartment, leading investigators to believe he was staying in Germany and thus subject to German tax laws.

What findings did the court make in this case?

The former tennis player, Judge Taylor stated, exhibited no remorse or guilt for his actions.

legend Boris Becker
legend Boris Becker

Referring to his previous conviction in Germany for tax evasion, she told Becker: “You disregarded the warning and opportunity provided by the suspended sentence, which is a significant aggravating factor… You have… attempted to disassociate yourself from your offenses and bankruptcy. While I accept your humiliation as a necessary component of the proceedings, there has been no demonstration of humility.”

Prosecutor Rebecca Chalkley stated that Becker acted “deliberately and dishonestly” and was “continuing to seek blame.”

What are the ramifications of Becker’s conviction?

“You have lost your career, reputation, and all of your property as a result of your bankruptcy,” Judge Taylor stated.

Becker’s lawyer claims that his “fall from grace” has left his “reputation in tatters.”

“Boris Becker has literally nothing and also nothing to show for what was the most glittering of sporting careers, which can only be described as a tragedy.” These proceedings have effectively ended his career and eliminated any future possibility of earning an income. He will be unable to find work and will be forced to rely on the generosity of others to survive,” his attorney stated.

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