Tennis great Boris Becker, a six-time grand slam champion, received a 30-month prison sentence in the UK last week for concealing income during his bankruptcy case in 2017.
In April, Becker, who was number 1 in the world in 1986 and won Wimbledon three times, was found guilty of four crimes related to his personal bankruptcy. They included not disclosing his assets and concealing and removing financial assets, the UK’s Insolvency Service reported.
Judge Deborah Taylor gave him the sentence for bankruptcy fraud and related crimes and said he will be required to serve approximately 15 months.
Taylor added that while Becker lost his career, reputation, and property because of the bankruptcy, he didn’t show sufficient remorse to have his sentence suspended. She also said that even after he was caught, Becker tried to hide his crimes.
Becker Declared Bankruptcy in 2017
Becker declared personal bankruptcy in the United Kingdom in 2017, so he was legally required to disclose all financial assets. But he hid about $450,000 in assets that were transferred to a property in Germany and thousands of shares in Breaking Data Corp. He also was convicted of hiding an $871,000 bank loan.
Further, he transferred hundreds of thousands of pounds to nine people, including an account for his ex-wife and an estranged wife. Becker also paid $500,000 for an ankle operation a few years ago and spent $10,000 at a golf resort in China.
He was acquitted on 20 additional charges, including not giving over medals and trophies from his tennis days. Becker told the jury that he didn’t know where the trophies were, including his men’s singles trophies from Wimbledon.
Other prizes he claimed he couldn’t find were his Olympic gold medal from 1992; Australian Open trophies from the 1990s; the President’s Cup from 1985 and 1989; a Davis Cup, and a Davis Cup gold coin.
Federal prosecutor Rebecca Chalkley said that Becker was ‘selective’ in the assets he disclosed. When he swore that he made full disclosure, he was lying, she said.
Chalkley accused the former tennis star of playing the bankruptcy system in bad faith and denying creditors more than $2 million in assets.
Chief executive of the Insolvency Service, Dean Beale, agreed, noting that Becker didn’t comply with his legal requirements to disclose all of his assets during bankruptcy. Beale added that the convict is a warning to others who think they can conceal assets and get away with it.
Becker Denied All Charges
The former Grand Slam champ always denied the charges, arguing that he fully cooperated with bankruptcy trustees who were required to secure his assets. Becker said that he had given up his wedding ring for creditors and had acted on the advice of financial experts.
Chalkley, however, shot back that Becker had acted dishonestly and deliberately and he always tried to blame others for his crimes.
His defense attorney, Jon Laidlaw, asked for leniency because Becker didn’t spend money on a fancy lifestyle. Instead, much of his income went to legal and business expenses, as well as child support.
Becker’s personal bankruptcy stemmed from a $5 million loan from a bank nine years ago. He also borrowed about $1.6 million from a businessman in the UK in 2014.
During the criminal trial, Becker said he made $50 million in career earnings, but most were lost in divorce and debts after he lost a lot of income when he retired from tennis in 1999.
Becker told the jury he had an expensive divorce in 2019 that required expensive payments to his sons. He also had to support a daughter named Anna and her mom. The divorce agreement required him to maintain their lifestyle in a flat in London.
He added that he had ‘expensive lifestyle commitments, such as a rented house near Wimbledon for $25,000 per month.
Also, he owed the Swiss government $5 million and about $1 million for tax evasion in Germany in 2002.
Becker told the court that bad publicity over the years had damaged his brand, so he struggled to make enough money to pay all his debts and obligations. He added that he was probably too trusting of his financial advisors.
Becker became a tennis star in 1985 at 17 when he was the first unseeded player to win at Wimbledon. He defeated Kevin Curren in four sets and became the youngest men’s singles champ at Wimbledon. Becker became world-famous after that.
In 1986, he beat #1 player Ivan Lendl to win the first back-to-back Wimbledon championship. Over the years, he was in 77 men’s finals and won 50 singles titles.
But by the early 1990s, he faced harsh public scrutiny for his dissolving marriage and tax problems in Germany. The stress of these developments caused his career to nosedive.
In 1997, he lost his quarterfinals match at Wimbledon to Pete Sampras. After that loss, he said he would never participate in the tournament again. But he played again in 1999 and lost in the fourth round.
Off the tennis court, Becker’s problems grew. He was ordered to pay $3 million after he had a daughter with a Russian model while still married to his first wife.
After the loss, he went out with friends to drink beer while his wife was seven months pregnant. He had sex on a staircase with the Russian model he met while on the town.