UK: Former tennis star Becker guilty of four charges under Insolvency Act

Former tennis star Boris Becker has been found guilty of four charges under the Insolvency Act relating to his 2017 bankruptcy.

The former world number one was accused of hiding millions of pounds worth of assets to avoid paying his debts.

He was declared bankrupt in June 2017 over an unpaid loan of more than £3m on his estate in Mallorca, Spain.

Becker, 54, was acquitted of a further 20 charges at London’s Southwark Crown Court on Friday.

He was cleared of nine counts of failing to hand over trophies and medals from his tennis career, including two Wimbledon men’s singles trophies.

The six-time Grand Slam champion told reporters outside court he would not be commenting on the verdict.

He was found guilty of transferring hundreds of thousands of pounds from his business account after his bankruptcy, failing to declare a property in Germany, and concealing €825 000 of debt.

He could face a jail sentence carrying a maximum term of seven years for each count.

Becker told the jury his career earnings of US$50m (about £38 million) were spent on an expensive divorce from his first wife in 2001, child maintenance payments, and “expensive lifestyle commitments”, including his £22 000-a-month rented house in Wimbledon, south-west London.

The former tennis star told the court he was “shocked” and “embarrassed” when he was declared bankrupt, and he had co-operated with those tasked with securing his assets, including offering up his wedding ring.

Becker, a German national who has lived in the UK since 2012, was cleared of failing to declare a second German property, as well as his interest in the £2.5m Chelsea flat occupied by his daughter.

During the trial, he said he earned a “vast amount” in his career, paying in cash for several properties, but his income “reduced dramatically” following his retirement in 1999.

His barrister, Jonathan Laidlaw QC, said at the time of Becker’s bankruptcy he was too “trusting and reliant” on his advisers.

At the start of the trial, Judge Deborah Taylor instructed the jury of 11 men and one woman to ignore Becker’s celebrity.

“You must treat him in exactly the same way you would treat someone you have not heard of and is not in the public eye,” she said.

Dean Beale, the chief executive of the Insolvency Service, said: “This conviction serves as a clear warning to those who think they can hide their assets and get away with it. You will be found out and prosecuted.”

Becker has been bailed ahead of a sentencing hearing on April 29.


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