Disgraced Wimbledon champ Boris Becker will stay behind bars for years after a UK court found him guilty of hiding millions on dollars in assets.
Former tennis star Boris Becker has been jailed for two and a half years after being found guilty by a British court of charges relating to his 2017 bankruptcy.
The six-time Grand Slam champion, 54, will serve half of the term having being convicted at Southwark Crown Court in London over his transfer of huge amounts of money from his business account.
He also failed to declare a property in Germany and concealed $1.2 million of debt and shares in a tech firm.
Becker won Wimbledon three times in the late 1980s and the Australian Open twice, including in 1996 which was his last major trophy.
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Earlier this month, the German star was found guilty of four charges under the UK’s Insolvency Act and cleared of 20 other counts.
He denied breaking UK insolvency laws following his bankruptcy but was found to have hid around $4.4 million in assets to avoid paying his debts.
‘Nothing short of a tragedy’: Lawyer pleads but judge lashes Becker
Judge Deborah Taylor had released Becker — who first won Wimbledon as an unseeded teenager — on conditional bail ahead of her sentencing decision.
Passing sentence, she told him: “The obligation was on you to disclose these assets but you did not.
“I take into account your fall from grace. You’ve lost your career, reputation and all your properties.
“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.” Judge Taylor said Becker’s previous conviction in Germany for tax offences was “a significant aggravating factor”.
Becker’s lawyer Jonathan Laidlaw had pleaded for a lenient sentence.
“Boris Becker has literally nothing and there is nothing to show for what was the most glittering of sporting careers,” he said.
“It is nothing short of a tragedy. His fall is not simply a fall from grace, it is the public humiliation of this man.
“These proceedings have destroyed his career and totally ended any prospect of earning an income.
“His reputation is in tatters. He will have to rely on the charity of others.”
Becker hid millions
Becker arrived early for the hearing, wearing a striped purple and green tie in the Wimbledon colours, a white shirt and a charcoal grey suit.
He held hands with his partner Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro as he walked into court past a bank of waiting reporters and cameras.
The star showed no emotion as he was sentenced, picking up his bag before being taken down to the cells.
There was no immediate word that Becker would appeal and he will lodge any legal challenge from behind bars.
Becker told the jury how his $70 million career earnings were swallowed up by an expensive divorce from his first wife Barbara Becker, child maintenance payments and “expensive lifestyle commitments”.
After his playing career, he 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. But he said his income “reduced dramatically” following his retirement in 1999.
In June 2017, the former world number one went bust due to an unpaid loan of $4.45m on his Spanish estate. In total he owed creditors almost $88.5m.
However, Becker transferred $634,000 from his business accounts to personal accounts including that of his ex-wife.
He also failed to declare a $1.8m property in Germany, a bank loan that totalled around $1.6m and other assets including shareholdings that could have been used towards his debts, reported Sky Sports UK.
He told jurors during the trial he did not know the whereabouts of his memorabilia, including two of his three Wimbledon men’s singles trophies.
Becker, who has lived in Britain since 2012, said he had co-operated with trustees trying to secure his assets, even offering his wedding ring, and relied on the advisers who managed his life away from tennis.
He also owed the Swiss authorities $7.4m and separately just under $1.5m in liabilities over a conviction for tax evasion and attempted tax evasion in Germany in 2002.
Becker said bad publicity had damaged “brand Becker”, meaning he struggled to make enough money to pay off his debts.
Mr Laidlaw said at the time of his bankruptcy that Becker was too “trusting and reliant” on his advisers.
Becker clutched a Puma duffel bag packed with clothes and belongings for his time behind bars and spoke only to confirm his name during his sentencing hearing.
Becker, with a shock of strawberry-blond hair, shook up the tennis world in 1985 when he became Wimbledon’s youngest men’s singles champion at 17 and repeated the feat the following year.
Nicknamed “Boom Boom” Becker for his ferocious serve, he won Wimbledon for a third time in 1989.
He also won the Australian Open twice and the US Open during his glittering career, becoming the top-ranked player in the world in 1991.