Boris Becker sentenced to two and a half years in prison for bankruptcy offences

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By Euronews  with AP
Former tennis player Boris Becker, right, leaves Southwark Crown Court in London on 7 April 2022
Former tennis player Boris Becker, right, leaves Southwark Crown Court in London on 7 April 2022   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Frank Augstein

Tennis great Boris Becker was sentenced by a London court to two and a half years in prison on Friday for illicitly transferring large amounts of money and hiding assets after having declared bankrupt.

The 54-year-old German was found to have transferred hundreds of thousands of pounds after his June 2017 bankruptcy from his business account to other accounts, including those of his ex-wife Barbara and estranged wife Sharlely “Lilly” Becker.

Becker was also convicted of failing to declare a property in Germany and hiding an €825,000 bank loan and shares in a tech firm.

The three-time Wimbledon champion was convicted earlier this month on four charges under the Insolvency Act and faced a maximum of seven years in prison.

Judge Deborah Taylor announced the sentence after hearing arguments from the prosecutor and Becker's attorney.

The jury at Southwark Crown Court in London acquitted him on 20 other counts, including charges that he failed to hand over his many awards, including two Wimbledon trophies and an Olympic gold medal.

Millions in earnings 'swallowed up by payments and debts'

Becker, wearing a striped tie in Wimbledon’s purple and green colours, walked into the courthouse hand in hand with girlfriend Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro.

The six-time Grand Slam champion has denied all the charges, saying he had cooperated with trustees tasked with securing his assets — even offering up his wedding ring — and had acted on expert advice.

At Friday's sentencing hearing, prosecutor Rebecca Chalkley said Becker had acted “deliberately and dishonestly” and that he was “still seeking to blame others".

Defence attorney Jonathan Laidlaw argued for leniency, saying his client hadn't spent money on a “lavish lifestyle” but on child support, rent and legal and business expenses. 

Becker, he told the court, has experienced “public humiliation” and has no future earnings potential.

Becker’s bankruptcy stemmed from a €4.6 million loan from a private bank in 2013 and about €1.5m borrowed from a British business person the year after, according to testimony at the trial.

During the trial, Becker said his €47.5m career earnings had been swallowed up by payments for an “expensive divorce” and debts when he lost large chunks of his income after retirement.

Becker rose to stardom in 1985 at the age of 17 when he became the first unseeded player to win the Wimbledon singles title and later rose to the No. 1 ranking. He has lived in Britain since 2012.