Boris Becker was sentenced to two and a half years in prison on Friday after a British court found him guilty of charges related to his 2017 bankruptcy. The six-time Grand Slam champion, 54, will serve half of his sentence after being found guilty of transferring large sums of money from his business account at Southwark Crown Court in London. He also failed to declare a property in Germany and kept 825,000 euros in debt and shares in a technology company hidden from the authorities. He was acquitted of a total of 20 charges earlier this month, including nine counts of failing to return trophies and medals he won during his illustrious tennis career.
Becker told jurors that he had no idea where the memorabilia, which included two of his three Wimbledon men’s singles trophies, had gone. Becker, who won Wimbledon as an unseeded teenager, was released on conditional bail by Judge Deborah Taylor ahead of her sentencing decision on Friday. He arrived early for the hearing, dressed in a Wimbledon-themed striped purple and green tie, a white shirt, and a charcoal grey suit. As he walked into court with his partner Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro, he was greeted by a swarm of reporters and cameras.
A costly divorce from his first wife Barbara Becker, child maintenance payments, and “expensive lifestyle commitments” ate up the former world number one’s $50 million (40 million pounds) career earnings, he told the jury. When Becker was declared bankrupt in June 2017 over an unpaid loan of more than $3 million on his Mallorca estate, he said he was “shocked” and “embarrassed.” The German said he worked with trustees to secure his assets, even offering his wedding ring, and that he trusted the advisers who ran his life outside of tennis. However, the former player was found guilty of four charges under the Insolvency Act, despite the fact that he was accompanied in court by his partner and eldest son Noah.
Becker testified that he earned a “significant amount” of money during his career and that he paid cash for several properties. However, following his retirement in 1999, the German, who went on to coach current world number one tennis player Novak Djokovic, work as a TV sports commentator, and serve as a brand ambassador for companies such as Puma, said his income “decreased dramatically.” Becker, who lived in Monte Carlo and Switzerland before moving to the UK, said his financial obligations included a rented house in Wimbledon, south-west London, that cost him 22,000 euros per month.
He also owed the Swiss authorities five million francs (roughly USD 5.1 million) and a separate liability of just under one million euros stemming from a conviction in Germany in 2002 for tax evasion and attempted tax evasion. He claimed that negative publicity had harmed his “brand Becker,” causing him to struggle to pay off his debts. Becker was too “trusting and reliant” on his advisers, according to his lawyer Jonathan Laidlaw, at the time of his bankruptcy.