Rand Slam champion Boris Becker faces jail time for hiding hundreds of thousands of pounds in assets after being declared bankrupt.
The three-time Wimbledon winner, 54, went financially stranded in June 2017 after his £38million tennis earnings were swallowed up by a costly divorce, child support and his luxurious lifestyle.
Facing demands to hand over his assets, Becker hid his stake in property in Germany as well as shares in a tech company, and transferred £360,000 (€426,930) to others, including his ex- wife Barbara and ex-wife Sharlely “Lilly” Becker.
Becker, a former world number one turned BBC commentator, went on trial and was found guilty earlier this month of four counts under insolvency law.
Jurors at Southwark Crown Court cleared Becker of 20 other charges, including allegations he hid his trophy collection from bankruptcy officials. But he still faces the prospect of a prison sentence when he is sentenced by Judge Deborah Taylor, the Recorder of Westminster, on Friday.
“This conviction serves as a clear warning to those who think they can hide their assets and get away with it,” said Insolvency Service chief executive Dean Beale. “You will be discovered and prosecuted.”
Becker, who has lived in the UK since 2012, was declared bankrupt after defaulting on a £3million bank loan for repairs to his sprawling estate in Mallorca.
A High Court judge has refused to grant a further extension to allow Becker to try to pass on the debt, leaving the tennis ace under tight restrictions on his financial affairs.
The criminal trial provided details of Becker’s career and financial struggles after his retirement from sport, when he carved out a role as an expert and commentator and also endorsed various products.
He told jurors that ‘Brand Becker’ had been damaged by a series of public revelations about his private life, including the acrimonious breakdown of his marriage to Barbara and a multi-million pound divorce settlement.
Becker fathered a daughter during an infamously brief encounter with waitress Angela Ermakova at London restaurant Nobu in 1999, and he pledged to support the children, including a £2.5million flat in Chelsea.
He was also convicted in 2002 in Germany of tax evasion and attempted tax evasion after an investigation into his time living in Monte Carlo and his native Germany.
Evidence was presented of his spending at Harrods and Ralph Lauren as bankruptcy approached, as he also shelled out €48,000 for ankle surgery at a private clinic, €12,500 for a private jet company and a €600 stay at a luxury golf resort in China.
Investigators searched Becker’s property portfolio, including his mother’s home in Leimen, Germany, and his daughter’s home in Chelsea, and conducted an unsuccessful search for his trophy collection, including two of his three trophies. in men’s singles at Wimbledon, a 1992 Olympic gold medal, Australian Open trophies from 1991 and 1996, the President’s Cup from 1985 and 1989, his Davis Cup trophy from 1989 and a gold coin. Davis Cup gold he won in 1988.
Becker testified at his trial, describing the “shock” and “embarrassment” when the bankruptcy occurred, and insisting he had been honest and forthright with investigators.
However, he was accused of ignoring restrictions on his finances and using his work bank account as a “piggy bank” for personal spending.
Becker said he coached world number one tennis player Novak Djokovic, commentated for various TV channels and represented brands like Puma. But his income “diminished considerably” after his retirement from tennis and left him in dire straits.
He said he had relied on advisers to help him with the legal paperwork and insisted he had not read the documents setting out his undertakings in the bankruptcy proceedings.
Becker is due in the dock at noon for the sentencing hearing. The counts on which he was convicted carry a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.