Three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker has been jailed for 2½ years for hiding £2.5 million worth of assets and loans to avoid paying debts when he declared bankruptcy five years ago.
He was found guilty of four charges under the Insolvency Act including transferring money to his former wife Barbara and estranged wife Sharlely and acquitted on 20 other counts.
“It is notable you have not shown remorse or acceptance of your guilt,” judge Deborah Taylor told him as he appeared at London’s Southwark Crown Court wearing a Wimbledon tie. “There has been no humility.”
Becker, whose partner Lillian and son Noah were in court, will serve half of the sentence behind bars and the other half on licence.
He owed nearly £50 million when he was declared bankrupt and he was obliged to disclose all his assets so that they could be distributed among his creditors. He concealed almost £1 million from the sale of a Mercedes car dealership in Germany as well as a house in his home town, a £700,000 bank loan and shares in a technology firm. He used the money to pay private school fees for his children as well as shopping trips to Harrods and transferred £356,000 to nine recipients, including his ex-wife Barbara and estranged wife Sharlely.
Pleading for mitigation, Jonathan Laidlaw QC, said Becker had “literally nothing” and there was nothing to show for his glittering sporting career. ‘That is nothing short of a tragedy. His fall is not simply a fall from grace but amounts to the most public of humiliations for this man. His degree of suffering is punishment at a level that no other bankrupt in this country is likely to experience. So in terms of the defendant’s future, in reality there is not one,” he said. “These proceedings have destroyed his career, removed any future prospect of him earning any income and his brand is in tatters. He won’t be able to find work and will have to rely on the charity of others if he is to survive.”
Mr Laidlaw QC said Becker had committed a criminal offence by deciding for himself which creditors to pay by transferring money to dependents rather than leaving it to the trustees to decide how to distribute his assets.
“Would those payments out to others necessarily have been disallowed by the trustee in bankruptcy? Against this background plainly the defendant had to continue to support his ex-wife and that would have been consistent with the orders of the court,” he said. “We’re not concerned about the money being spent on a lavish lifestyle or gambling or something like that.”