Boris Becker could face years in jail after being found guilty in bankruptcy case

080422 Boris Becker outside court, PA
Boris Becker earnt around £38 million during his career. Credit: PA

Tennis star Boris Becker could be jailed for transferring hundreds of thousands of pounds from his business account after his bankruptcy.

The three-time Wimbledon champion, 54, told a jury his $50 million (about £38 million) career earnings were swallowed up by an expensive divorce from his first wife Barbara Becker, child maintenance payments, and “expensive lifestyle commitments”.

Former world number one, Becker said he was “shocked” and “embarrassed” when he was declared bankrupt on June 21, 2017, over an unpaid loan of more than £3 million on his estate in Mallorca.

The German, who has lived in the UK since 2012, said he had co-operated with trustees tasked with securing his assets, even offering up his wedding ring, and relied on the advisers who managed his life.

Supported in court by his partner Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro and eldest son Noah, the six-time Grand Slam champion was found guilty of four charges under the Insolvency Act by a jury at Southwark Crown Court on Friday.

Boris Becker arriving at Southwark Crown Court, London, alongside partner Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro. Credit: PA

What charges has Boris Becker faced?

The charges include removing property, two counts of failing to disclose estate, and concealing debt.

Judge Deborah Taylor released Becker on conditional bail ahead of sentencing on April 29, when he could face a jail sentence carrying a maximum term of seven years for each count.

The court was told the BBC commentator received 1.13 million euros (about £950,000) from the sale of his Mercedes car dealership in Germany.

Proceeds of the sale were then paid into a business account used as his “piggy bank” for personal expenses.

He was found guilty of transferring hundreds of thousands of pounds to other accounts, including those of his ex-wife Barbara and estranged wife Sharlely “Lilly” Becker, the mother of his fourth child.

Becker also spent 48,000 euros (around £40,000) on an ankle operation at a private clinic, paid 12,500 euros (more than £10,000) to a private jet company, and splashed out 6,000 euros (around £5,000) at a luxury golf resort in China.

He was also convicted of failing to declare a property in Germany, and hiding an 825,000 euros (almost £700,000) bank loan and shares in a tech firm.

He was acquitted of a further 20 charges, including nine counts of failing to hand over trophies and medals from his tennis career.

Becker in action against Patrick Rafter during the 1999 Wimbledon tennis Championships Credit: PA

Missing memorabilia

He told jurors he did not know the whereabouts of the memorabilia, including two of his three Wimbledon men’s singles trophies, including the 1985 title that catapulted him to stardom aged 17.

The other prizes were his 1992 Olympic gold medal, Australian Open trophies from 1991 and 1996, the President’s Cup from 1985 and 1989, his 1989 Davis Cup trophy and a Davis Cup gold coin he won in 1988.

Authorities cleared Becker of failing to declare a second German property, as well as his interest in the £2.5 million Chelsea flat occupied by his daughter Anna Ermakova, who was conceived during Becker’s infamous encounter with waitress Angela Ermakova at London restaurant Nobu in 1999.

While giving evidence, Becker said he had earned a “vast amount” during his career.

He stated he had paid cash for a family home in Munich, a property in Miami, Florida, and the estate in Mallorca, which was worth about 50 million euro at the height of the property market.

But Becker, who went on to coach current world number one tennis player Novak Djokovic, work as a commentator and act as a brand ambassador for firms including Puma, said his income “reduced dramatically” following his retirement in 1999.

Citing an “expensive divorce” from Barbara Becker in 2001, which involved high maintenance payments to their two sons and support for Ms Ermakova and her mother in a deal that included the Chelsea flat.

Becker, who was resident in Monte Carlo and Switzerland before moving to the UK, said he had “expensive lifestyle commitments”, including his £22,000-a-month rented house in Wimbledon, south-west London.

Becker could be jailed when he appears for sentencing Credit: PA

He also owed the Swiss authorities five million francs (about £4 million) and separately just under one million euros (more than £800,000) in liabilities over a conviction for tax evasion and attempted tax evasion in Germany in 2002.

The court heard Becker’s bankruptcy resulted from a 4.6 million euros (about £3.85 million) loan from private bank Arbuthnot Latham in 2013, and £1.2 million, with a 25% interest rate, borrowed from British businessman John Caudwell, who founded Phones 4u, the following year.

He said bad publicity had damaged “brand Becker”, meaning he struggled to make enough money to pay off his debts.

In contrast his barrister Jonathan Laidlaw said at the time of his bankruptcy Becker was too “trusting and reliant” on his advisers.