Boris Becker’s career hit a new low on Friday when he was sentenced by Judge Deborah Taylor, to 2-years and 6-months in jail for hiding £2.5 million worth of assets and loans to avoid paying his debts after being found guilty three weeks ago of four charges under the Insolvency Act at Southwark Crown Court.
You have not shown remorse, acceptance of your guilt and have sought to distance yourself from your offending and your bankruptcy. While I accept your humiliation as part of the proceedings, there has been no humility. Judge Deborah Taylor
The former German ace who won his first Wimbledon title in 1985 when he was just an unseeded 17-year-old to become the youngest ever to do so, will just serve 15-months behind bars and the rest on license.
His downfall started when he failed to meet payments on a bank loan raised on his Mallorcan Estate in Spain leading to the bank calling in the £3 million loan which then revealed he actually owed some £50 million to various debtors leading to him being declared bankrupt on the 21st June, 2017.
The 54-year-old former world number one and three-time Wimbledon champion was subsequently found guilty of transferring almost 427,000 Euros (around £390,000) from his business account to others, including those of his ex-wife Barbara and estranged wife Sharlely “Lilly” Becker.
The father-of-four also failed to declare his share in a £1 million property in his home-town of Leimen, Germany and had hidden an 825,000 Euros (almost £700,000) bank loan – worth £1.1 million with interest – and concealed 75,000 shares in a tech firm, valued at £66,000.
The trial heard details of Becker’s career and how the six-time grand slam winner and holder of 49 titles lost his fortune following his retirement in 1999.
The jury heard how he claimed not to know the location of some of his trophies, how he took a high-interest loan from one of Britain’s richest businessmen and tried to avoid bankruptcy by claiming to have diplomatic protection from the Central African Republic.
Becker was acquitted at the trial of 20 other counts, including charges that he failed to hand over other assets, including two Wimbledon trophies and an Olympic Doubles gold medal.
Becker, who has lived in the UK since 2012 and was head of men’s tennis at the DTB (the German Tennis Federation) from 2017 to 2020 and coached Novak Djokovic the current world No.1 between 2013 and 2016, had denied all the charges, saying he had cooperated with the bankruptcy proceedings – even offering up his wedding ring – and had relied on his advisers.
Prosecutor Rebecca Chalkley said on Friday the jury had found he acted “deliberately and dishonestly”, but added: “Even now, Mr Becker is still seeking to blame others when it was obviously his duty.”
The court heard he received 1.13 million Euros (about £950,000) from the sale of a Mercedes car dealership he owned in Germany into a business account used as his “piggy bank” for his personal expenses.
They included £7,600 on children’s school fees, almost £1,000 at Harrods, and payments made to Ralph Lauren, Porsche, Ocado and a Chelsea children’s club.
He also paid 48,000 Euros (around £40,000) for an ankle operation at a private clinic and spent 6,000 Euros (around £5,000) at a luxury golf resort in China, the court heard.
Becker was acquitted of 20 charges, including nine counts of failing to hand over trophies and medals from his tennis career.
However, he was also cleared of failing to declare a second German property, as well as his interest in the £2.5 million Chelsea flat occupied by his daughter Anna Ermakova, who was conceived during Becker’s infamous sexual encounter with waitress Angela Ermakova at London restaurant ‘Nobu’ in 1999.
Jonathan Laidlaw QC, defending, said Becker had not spent money on a “lavish lifestyle” but used funds to pay child maintenance, lawyers, business expenses and rent.
He added: “He was in desperate financial straits and what in essence he has done is exercised his own choice as to which creditors to pay, choosing or preferring to pay monies to dependents rather than allowing the joint trustees to determine how those monies should be applied.”
Passing sentence, Judge Taylor told him: “You have not shown remorse, acceptance of your guilt and have sought to distance yourself from your offending and your bankruptcy.
“While I accept your humiliation as part of the proceedings, there has been no humility.”
She also added his previous conviction in 2002 in Germany for tax offences was “a significant aggravating factor.”
Becker, who arrived in court wearing a grey suit and what looked like a Wimbledon member’s, tie has not revealed whether he will be appealing the sentence having shown no emotion when it was handed down before being led down to the cells.