Sfateful day for a tennis legend: In the criminal case against Boris Becker, the verdict is awaited with excitement on Friday. The former exceptional athlete could theoretically risk several years in prison because he had not disclosed assets worth more than a million euros in his bankruptcy proceedings. Three weeks ago, a jury found Becker guilty of several charges. However, he can still appeal both the guilty verdict and the verdict. The 54-year-old had denied the allegations.
The lay judges at London’s Southwark Crown Court, on the other hand, had concluded that Becker had hidden a property in his hometown of Leimen, illegally transferred large sums to other accounts and hidden shares in an artificial intelligence company. Judge Deborah Taylor decides on the punishment against the German. In May 2019, the same judge sentenced WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to 50 weeks in prison for violating his bail conditions.
Legal experts are also 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.
“Naive, but innocent”
The public prosecutor had filed a total of 24 charges against Becker. Prosecutor Rebecca Chalkley found it proven that he had deliberately concealed several possessions and now blamed his advisers who he said had handled his finances. The tennis legend’s defender had said his client was naive but innocent. The jury followed this argument in 20 points, also when it came to the issue of missing trophies.
But the four-point guilty verdict may be enough to fundamentally change Becker’s life. “This verdict is a clear warning to those who think they can hide their wealth and get away with it. You will be investigated and prosecuted,” the bankruptcy authority said.
Becker, who lives in London, was declared bankrupt in 2017. After that, he had to disclose his assets to the insolvency administrators – but according to the jury, he omitted important parts.
An expensive divorce and high maintenance costs
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. However, he ran into financial problems. In court, Becker blamed the expensive divorce from ex-wife Barbara and high maintenance costs for daughter Anna Ermakowa.
Becker comments on tennis tournaments for the BBC and is very popular among the British. His partner Lilian De Carvalho Monteiro accompanied him to court every day, most recently his eldest son Noah was also by his side.
Becker also received encouragement from other celebrities. “Boris did not peel off poor grandmothers,” said entertainer Thomas Gottschalk after the sentencing of the newspaper “Bild”. At worst, “a couple of rich financiers who wanted to adorn themselves with the fame of the tennis idol became a little poorer.” “My sympathy for them is limited,” “Bild” quoted the 71-year-old Gottschalk.