Sunday, November 27, 2022

Tennis star jailed for 2 1/2 years in bankruptcy case

LONDON ( Associated Press) – Tennis great Boris Becker was sentenced on Friday to 2 1/2 years in prison for illegally transferring large amounts of money and concealing assets after declaring bankruptcy.

The three-time Wimbledon champion was convicted of four charges under the Insolvency Act earlier this month and faces a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.

Judge Deborah Taylor announced the sentence after hearing arguments from both the prosecutor and Baker’s attorney. He told the former top-order player that he has no regrets.

Taylor said, “Though I accept your insult as part of the proceedings, there is no humility.”

Baker must serve at least 15 months before being eligible for release.

The 54-year-old German was found to have transferred hundreds of thousands of pounds (dollars) from his business account to other accounts, including his ex-wife Barbara and estranged wife Shirley “Lily” Baker, after a June 2017 bankruptcy.

Becker was also convicted of failing to declare an asset in Germany and of concealing an 825,000 euro ($871,000) bank loan and shares in a tech firm.

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A Southwark Crown Court jury in London acquitted him on 20 other counts, including allegations that he failed to hand over several of his awards, including two Wimbledon trophies and an Olympic gold medal.

Baker, dressed in a striped tie at Wimbledon’s purple and green, walked hand in hand at the courthouse with girlfriend Lillian de Carvalho Monteiro.

The six-time Grand Slam champion denies all allegations, saying he cooperated with working trustees to acquire his assets – even offering his wedding ring – and on expert advice has worked.

At Friday’s sentencing hearing, prosecutor Rebecca Chackley said Baker had acted “deliberately and dishonestly” and that he “still wanted to blame others.”

Defense attorney Jonathan Laidlaw argued for leniency, saying that his client had not spent the money on a “lavish lifestyle”, but on child support, rent, and legal and business expenses. Baker, he told the court, has experienced “public humiliation” and has no future earnings prospects.

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The judge said Becker’s two-year suspended sentence for tax evasion in 2002 and attempted tax evasion in Germany was “a significant aggravating factor” in her decision Friday. She said she “did not heed the warning” and that the opportunity for a suspended sentence.

According to testimony at trial, Baker’s bankruptcy in 2013 stemmed from a loan of 4.6 million euros ($5 million) from a private bank, as well as about $1.6 million borrowed from a British businessman.

During the trial, Baker stated that his $50 million career earnings had been swallowed up by an “expensive divorce” and debt payments when he lost the bulk of his income after retirement.

Baker rose to stardom in 1985 at the age of 17, when he became the first unseeded player to win the Wimbledon singles title and later rose to the No. 1 ranking. He has been living in the UK since 2012.


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