LONDON – Tennis player Boris Becker was sentenced to two and a half years in prison on Friday for illegally transferring large sums of money and hiding assets after declaring bankruptcy.
The three-time Wimbledon champion was convicted earlier this month of four counts under the insolvency law and faced a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.
Judge Deborah Taylor announced the verdict after hearing arguments from the attorney general and Baker’s attorney.
The 54-year-old German was found to have transferred hundreds of thousands of pounds after his June 2017 bankruptcy from his trading account to other accounts, including those of his ex-wife Barbara and his estranged wife Charlie “Lily” Baker.
Becker was also convicted of failing to advertise a property in Germany and hiding an 825,000-euro ($871,000) bank loan and shares in a technology company.
A jury at London’s Southwark Crown Court acquitted him of 20 other counts, including charges of failing to hand him several awards, including two Wimbledon awards and an Olympic gold medal.
Wearing a striped Wimbledon purple and green tie, Becker walked into the courtroom alongside his girlfriend Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro.
The six-time Grand Slam champion has denied all charges, saying he cooperated with trustees tasked with securing his assets – even offering his wedding ring – and acted on expert advice.
Prosecutor Rebecca Chalkley said at Friday’s sentencing hearing that Baker acted “intentionally and dishonestly” and that he “continues to seek to place the blame on others”.
Defense attorney Jonathan Laidlaw defended the leniency, saying his client spent the money not on a “lavish lifestyle” but on child support, rent, legal and business expenses. He told the court that Baker had been “publicly humiliated” and had no potential future earnings.
Becker’s bankruptcy stemmed from a 4.6 million euro loan from a private bank in 2013, as well as about $1.6 million borrowing from a British businessman the following year, according to testimony at the trial.
During the trial, Baker said his $50 million career earnings were swallowed up by “expensive divorce” payments and debts when he lost a significant portion of his post-retirement income.
Becker rose to stardom in 1985 at the age of 17 when he became the first unranked player to win a Wimbledon singles title and later rose to number one. He has lived in the UK since 2012.