Six-time Grand Slam champion Boris Becker ‘acted dishonestly’ when he failed to hand over nine trophies and medals, including two Wimbledon titles, from his tennis career to pay his debts, a court has heard today.
The 54-year-old commentator was declared bankrupt in June 2017 after borrowing around £3.5 million from private bank Arbuthnot Latham for a property in Mallorca, Spain, known as the Finca, the jury heard.
German national Becker is accused of hiding or failing to hand over assets before and after his bankruptcy.
He is on trial at Southwark Crown Court charged with 24 counts under the Insolvency Act relating to the period between May and October 2017.
Former Grand Slam tennis champion Boris Becker, 54, is accused of failing to hand over his trophies to settle debts. He arrived at Southwark Crown Court this morning (above)
Becker allegedly hid the proceeds from the sale of a £3million car dealership by transferring money to his second wife Sharlely ‘Lilly’, who he separated from three years ago. Pictured, Becker and Sharlely in 2015
Tennis ace Becker squirrelled money away by sending huge sums to his first wife Barbara (pictured together in 2000), it is alleged
The 54-year-old commentator was declared bankrupt in June 2017 after borrowing around £3.5 million from private bank Arbuthnot Latham for this property in Mallorca
A selection of trophies, awards, and memorabilia from the tennis career of Boris Becker. Becker is accused of failing to hand over trophies from his glittering career to settle debts
Prosecutor Rebecca Chalkley said the assets include trophies such as the 1985 and 1989 Wimbledon men’s singles title, his Australian Open trophies from 1991 and 1996 and his 1992 Olympic gold medal.
The former world number one, who commentated for the BBC at Wimbledon last year, is accused of concealing 1.13 million euros (around £950,000) from the sale of a car dealership he owned in Germany.
He is accused of transferring funds to other bank accounts, including those of former wife Barbara Becker and estranged wife Sharlely ‘Lilly’ Becker.
He also allegedly failed to declare two German properties, as well as a flat in Chelsea, west London, and hid a 825,000 euro (almost £700,000) bank loan.
He is also accused of not disclosing a £620,000 debt and bank accounts holding £1.2million as well as his stake of 75,000 shares in AI firm Breaking Data Corp.
‘It is the prosecution case that Mr Becker acted dishonestly with regards to a number of his assets, that in various ways he effectively hid from, or made unavailable to, those responsible for identifying the assets,’ said Ms Chalkley.
Becker manipulated the bankruptcy system by hiding millions of pounds of assets and his Wimbledon trophies to avoid paying back a £3.5million loan for thiss Mallorca villa, the court heard
The German national is said to have failed to hand over trophies including the 1985 Wimbledon men’s singles title. Above, Becker and his girlfriend Lilian De Carvalho outside court
‘The prosecution say Mr Becker did this both before and after the date of his bankruptcy agreement by not disclosing, not providing, or delivering up, or removing assets or things of value.’
Becker, who won 49 singles titles out of 77 finals during his 16 years as a professional tennis player, arrived at court this morning hand in hand with his partner Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro.
He sat in the dock, wearing a dark blue suit, white shirt, and black trainers next to a German translator, who is assisting him during the trial.
Judge Deborah Taylor said it was not suggested Becker ‘does not speak English’ but said he may need help with ‘technical vocabulary such as legal concepts’.
Ms Chalkley said the ‘bankruptcy bargain’ relies on bankrupts ‘to be truthful and to disclose fully their assets’.
She said there is a ‘strong public interest’ in prosecuting those who breach their promise.
‘There is a consistent policy throughout the history of bankruptcy legislation, which goes back hundreds of years, that bankrupts who play the system, act in bad faith, should be punished and that, in short is what the prosecution say Mr Becker did here,’ she said.
Becker, who is on bail, denies all 24 charges.
They include nine counts of failing to deliver up trophies and other awards and seven counts of concealing property totalling more than 1.5 million euros.
He is also charged with five counts of failing to disclose estate, including the properties in Germany and London, shares and a bank account, two of removal of property amounting to almost 500,000 euros (more than £400,000) and one of concealing 825,000 euros (almost £700,000) of debt.
The prosecutor told jurors the case is about bankruptcy and that their ‘hearts may have sunk’ when they were read the indictment.
But she added: ‘The issues boil down to everyday issues of dishonesty and knowledge. That is what we say is at the heart of this case.’
Becker kisses the Gentleman’s trophy to celebrate his victory during the 1985 Men’s Singles final. It was his first Wimbledon title
The prosecution is being brought by the Insolvency Service on behalf of Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.
The trial continues, and is expected to last for up to three weeks.
This morning, the judge told the 11 men and one woman sworn in to try Becker: ‘You must leave aside anything you have heard or any preconceptions about this case, including anything about this defendant, and start with a blank page.
‘You must ignore this defendant’s celebrity and treat him in exactly the same way you would treat someone you have not heard of and is not in the public eye.’
He is bailed conditionally with requirements to live and sleep at his Battersea address.
He must notify the Insolvency Service, who prosecute the case, at least 48 hours before travelling abroad, including details of all countries and islands he will be visiting.
Becker, defended by Jonathan Laidlaw QC, is also required to provide his solicitors with his passport when not travelling.