Becker ‘acted dishonestly’ in concealing assets
Boris Becker “acted dishonestly” by failing to hand over nine trophies and medals won during his illustrious tennis career to pay his debts, a British court ruled on Monday.
The 54-year-old former world number one was declared bankrupt in 2017 after borrowing around £3.5m ($4.6m) from private bank Arbuthnot Latham for a property in Mallorca, Spain, a jury said.
The six-time Grand Slam champion, accused of hiding or failing to hand over assets before and after his bankruptcy, is on trial in London on 24 counts relating to the period between May and October 2017.
Prosecutor Rebecca Chalkley said the assets included silverware like Wimbledon trophies from 1985 and 1989, Becker’s Australian Open trophies from 1991 and 1996 and his men’s doubles Olympic gold medal from 1992.
The German, who commentated for the BBC at Wimbledon last year, is accused of concealing 1.13 million euros ($1.25 million) from the sale of a car dealership he owned in Germany and transferring funds to other bank accounts.
He also allegedly failed to declare two German properties, as well as his interest in a flat in London, and hid a bank loan of 825,000 euros.
“It is the accusation that Mr. Becker acted dishonestly with respect to a number of his assets, which he effectively concealed or made unavailable to those responsible for identifying the assets in various ways,” Chalkley said.
“The prosecution said Mr. Becker did so before and after the date of his bankruptcy settlement by not disclosing, providing, delivering or removing assets or valuables. .”
Becker, who has won 49 singles titles in his 16 years as a professional player, arrived at Southwark Crown Court in south London hand in hand with partner Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro.
He sat in the dock wearing a dark suit and white shirt, next to a German translator who is helping him during the trial.
Judge Deborah Taylor said it was not suggested that Becker “does not speak English” but that he might need help with “technical vocabulary such as legal concepts”.
She told the jury, “You have to ignore the celebrity of this defendant and treat him exactly the same as you would treat someone you haven’t heard of and who is not in the public eye.”
Chalkley said the “bankruptcy market” relies on bankrupts “to be honest and fully disclose their assets”, saying there is a strong public interest” in prosecuting those who break their promise.
The trial is expected to last up to three weeks.
Becker, with a mop of strawberry blonde hair, shook the tennis world in 1985 when he became Wimbledon’s youngest men’s singles champion at the age of 17, repeating the feat the following year.
The German’s dynamic style and childlike enthusiasm – best exemplified by his penchant for spectacular, plunging volleys on the grass at Wimbledon – made him a darling of the crowds at the All England Club.
Nicknamed “Boom Boom” Becker for his ferocious serve, he won Wimbledon for the third time in 1989.
He also won the Australian Open twice and the US Open during his illustrious career, becoming the highest ranked player in the world in 1991.
Becker turned to commentary after his retirement, landing a prominent role at the BBC, but returned to the pitch in 2013 as Novak Djokovic’s coach, helping the Serb win six more Grand Prix trophies. Slam before the couple separated in 2016. (AFP)