Tennis great Boris Becker has been jailed for hiding millions of dollars of assets when he went bankrupt in order to avoid paying his creditors.
The six-time grand slam winner and three-time Wimbledon champ was sentenced in a London Court to two-and-a-half years behind bars and will serve half the sentence.
Becker, whose partner Lillian and son Noah were in court, looked straight ahead and showed no emotion as the sentence was handed down.
He was immediately remanded in custody and now has 28 days to appeal.
Judge Deborah Taylor, who handed down the sentence, said the 54-year-old had shown no remorse or humility.
“I take into account what has been described as your fall from grace. You have lost your career and reputation and all of your property as a result of your bankruptcy,” said the judge.
“You have not shown remorse, acceptance of your guilt and have sought to distance yourself from your offending and your bankruptcy.
“While I accept your humiliation as part of the proceedings, there has been no humility.”
Becker was convicted of four charges under Britain’s Insolvency Act relating to hiding $3 million in assets after he went bankrupt in 2017 which could then not be distributed to creditors.
He was found guilty of transferring money to his ex-wife Barbara and estranged wife Sharlely.
Becker was previously convicted of tax evasion in Germany in 2002, for which he received a suspended prison sentence.
The trial had heard how the former world No.1, who was a teenage wunderkind, lost his fortune following his retirement.
The jury heard how he claimed not to know the location of some of his trophies, how he took a high-interest loan from one of Britain’s richest businessmen, and tried to avoid bankruptcy by claiming to have diplomatic protection from the Central African Republic.
Becker’s lawyer, Jonathan Laidlaw, told the court the tennis player had been left with “literally nothing to show for what was the most glittering of sporting careers” and his case was “nothing short of tragedy” as he appealed for leniency.
When Becker won his first Wimbledon title in 1985 aged 17, he was the youngest and first unseeded player to claim the men’s singles title.
In court, he wore a tie in the purple and green colours of the Wimbledon tournament.
Prosecutor Rebecca Chalkley accused Becker of “playing the system with bad faith” by concealing and transferring assets, and had deprived creditors of more than $3.5 million in assets, none of which had so far been paid back.
“When it suited him, he made full disclosure, when it didn’t, he didn’t,” she said, urging the judge to pass a custodial sentence.
Becker was made bankrupt in connection with a debt to private bankers Arbuthnot Latham & Co, and under the terms of the bankruptcy order, he was bound to provide full disclosure of assets.
He was convicted of failing to declare a property in Germany, hiding an 825,000 euro ($1.2 million) bank loan and shares in a Canadian technology firm.
Becker had denied all charges, saying he’d cooperated with the bankruptcy proceedings — even offering up his wedding ring — and had relied on his advisers.
Becker was acquitted of 20 other counts, including charges that he failed to hand over other assets, including two Wimbledon trophies and an Olympic gold medal.
“His reputation, an essential part of the brand, which gives him work, is in tatters,” Becker’s lawyer said.
“His fall is not simply a fall from grace and amounts to the most public of humiliations.”
After Germany’s sporting hero was jailed, president of the German tennis federation (DTB), Dietloff von Arnim expressed his support.
“We take note of the verdict with respect and regret and wish him all the best for the next time. We stand by his side.
“Boris Becker has been an integral part of the German tennis family for decades. His merits are and remain unique,” said von Arnim.
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