Tennis great Boris Becker sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for bankruptcy offenses

Tennis great Boris Becker was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison on Friday for illicit transfer of large sums of money and concealment of assets after being declared bankrupt.

The three-time Wimbledon champion was found guilty earlier this month of four counts under insolvency law and received a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.

Judge Deborah Taylor announced the sentence after hearing arguments from the prosecutor and Becker’s attorney. She told the former top-ranked player that he showed no remorse.

“While I accept your humiliation as part of the process, there was no humility,” Taylor said.

Becker will have to serve at least 15 months before being eligible for release.

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

Becker was also convicted of failing to declare property in Germany and concealing an 825,000 euro (about $1.12 million) bank loan and shares in a technology company.

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

Denial of all charges

Becker, dressed in a striped tie in the purple and green colors of Wimbledon, entered the courthouse hand in hand with his girlfriend Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro.

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

At Friday’s sentencing hearing, prosecutor Rebecca Chalkley said Becker acted “deliberately and dishonestly” and that he “always sought to blame others.”

Defense lawyer Jonathan Laidlaw pleaded for leniency, saying his client hadn’t spent the money on a ‘lavish lifestyle’, but rather on alimony, rent and legal fees and professionals. Becker, he told the court, suffered “public humiliation” and has no future earning potential.

The judge said Becker’s two-year suspended sentence for tax evasion and attempted tax evasion in Germany in 2002 was “a significant aggravating factor” in her decision on Friday. She said he “did not heed the warning” and the advisability of this suspended sentence.

Becker’s bankruptcy stems from a 4.6 million euro (about $6.2 million) loan from a private bank in 2013, as well as about US$1.6 million borrowed from a British businessman the following year, according to trial testimony.

During the trial, Becker said his career earnings of US$50 million were eaten up by payments for an “expensive divorce” and debts when he lost much of his income after retirement.

Becker shot to fame in 1985 at the age of 17 when he became the first unranked player to win the Wimbledon singles title and went on to rise to number one. He has lived in Britain since 2012.