Boris Becker’s future will be decided at Southwark Crown Court in London today. The tennis legend is accused of postponing bankruptcy. Three weeks ago, he was found guilty of four of the original 24 charges. According to British media, he risks up to seven years in prison – which can begin immediately after the trial. However, he can still appeal – both over the conviction and over the verdict. The 54-year-old had denied the allegations.
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In 1985, Boris Becker became an international tennis legend when, at the age of just 17, he surprisingly became the first German and youngest player of all time to win the Wimbledon final. As a result, tennis in Germany became the most popular sport after football. Over the course of his career, Becker has won several titles and has been named Sportsman of the Year several times.
Tax evasion, bankruptcy proceedings, property crime
Despite his successful career, the 54-year-old has struggled with financial problems for years. The triple Wimbledon winner had amassed around $ 25 million in prize money over the course of his career and earned, according to his own estimates, around the same amount on advertising. In 2017, he was declared bankrupt by a British court. Thereafter, he must have deliberately concealed parts of his assets.
Among other things, he must have transferred six-figure sums to his ex-wives, concealed a property in his hometown of Leimen and hidden company shares.
“This ruling is a clear warning to those who think they can hide their wealth and get away with it,” the bankruptcy tribunal said. Judge Deborah Taylor, who was also responsible for the case of Wikieaks founder Julian Assange, is considered to be particularly strict. In May 2019, she sentenced Assange to 50 weeks in prison for violating his bail conditions.
Legal experts are unclear as to what punishment Becker is now threatened with. Observers are confident Judge Taylor will not impose the maximum sentence of seven years. That Becker should be remanded in custody is assumed to be quite likely. Back in 2002, Becker had been sentenced to two years in prison for tax evasion, but the sentence was conditional.
Becker would not be the first sports star behind bars
Now he is threatened with imprisonment again. The former tennis pro would not be the first athlete to be sentenced to prison.
• There is the boxing idol e.g. BUBI SCHOLZ. In 1884, while intoxicated, he shot his wife, who was also drunk. After his successful sports career, Scholz slipped into depression and alcohol. He received three years in prison for negligent manslaughter.
• GRACIANO ROCCHIGIANO was one of the most successful German boxers of the 80s and 90s, including the world championship. But in addition to sports, there were scandals about drunkenness, fights and traffic offenses. In 2002, “Rocky” was jailed for nearly a year after violating the terms of his probation. In 2007, he was sentenced to twelve months in prison for, among other things, violence, which he was not to serve in full.
• FELIX STORM has been one of the most famous boxers in Germany in recent years, but the 43-year-old lost a comeback fight in March. Recent years have been overshadowed by accusations of tax evasion. After he had originally been sentenced to three years in prison for this and other crimes, the Cologne Regional Court reduced the sentence to two years and four months last year.
• Uli Hoeneß As a player, manager and later president of FC Bayern Munich, he was one of the crucial figures in German football for decades. In 2013, however, he was suspected of tax evasion, and in 2014, Hoeneß was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for evading 28.5 million euros. From June 2014 to February 2016, Hoeneß was in prison, the rest of the sentence was suspended.
• Made in the USA OJ SIMPSON In a sensational circumstance trial in 1995, he was acquitted of the charge of stabbing his ex-wife and her boyfriend. In a civil lawsuit, however, the former American football star was later held responsible for his death and sentenced to pay $ 33.5 million in compensation to the bereaved.
In 2008, Simpson was sentenced to 33 years in prison for armed robbery by two sports souvenir vendors at a hotel casino in Las Vegas. In October 2017, he was released early on parole.
• MIKE TYSON, American boxer, notorious for his harsh thugs, was sentenced in 1992 to six years in prison for raping Miss Black America candidate Desiree Washington. The last three have been suspended. In 1999, he was sentenced to one year in prison for assaulting those involved in a traffic accident. After four months, Tyson was allowed to leave prison and serve the remainder of his sentence under house arrest. Just over a week ago, Tyson again made headlines when he allegedly punched a young man in the face several times in a plane.
• OSCAR PISTORIUS, a South African sprinter with a leg amputation, shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp through the closed bathroom door to her home in February 2013. The multiple Paralympic winner always claimed to have taken the model to a burglar and acted in panic. In October 2014, he was initially sentenced to five years in prison for manslaughter and released a year later under house arrest.
However, an appeals court found him guilty of murder in December 2015. The six-year prison sentence originally set for this was increased to 13 years and five months in 2017. Pistorius’ appeal to the South African Constitutional Court was rejected.
Boris Becker’s verdict remains to be seen. He declares himself innocent. He could therefore still challenge both the verdict and the guilty verdict afterwards. (with agencies)