Boris Becker is one of Germany’s biggest sports icons. With his victories at Wimbledon and other major tennis tournaments, he achieved worldwide fame and fortune. But the German lost his assets – he is said to have misappropriated the assets and failed to comply with information requirements in the insolvency proceedings initiated for this reason.
That is why the 54-year-old is on trial in London from Monday on charges of delaying bankruptcy. He faces up to seven years in prison. A London bankruptcy court declared the three-time Wimbledon champion bankrupt in June 2017 due to outstanding debts. At the time, Becker’s owed debt was estimated to be up to 50 million pounds (59 million euros).
The bankruptcy deferral process was supposed to begin last September, but has been pushed back to next Monday because Baker changed his team of lawyers. First, the jury will take an oath in Southwark Crown Court.
The tennis legend has repeatedly faced legal difficulties in financial matters. The Spanish judiciary targeted Becker over debts related to his villa in Mallorca, and the Swiss judiciary for allegedly not paying him to the priest he married in 2009.
Baker rejects all allegations
In 2002, a court in Munich sentenced Becker to a suspended two-year prison term and a fine of €500,000 for tax evasion of €1.7 million. This process, as well as the malice due to several failed relationships of the sports star, contributed to the fact that the relationship between “Bumm-Bumm-Boris” and his native Germany calmed down and he chose London as his place of residence.
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However, Baker rejects the fact that he once again violated the laws applicable to insolvency proceedings in Great Britain. At a court hearing in October 2020, he pleaded not guilty to all 28 counts. His attorney said at the time that Baker was determined to have the allegations dismissed and his reputation restored.
Among other things, Becker was accused of withholding several awards, including the trophy for his first Wimbledon win in 1985. He is also said to have kept his real estate and bank accounts secret and transferred large sums to accounts including his ex-wives Barbara and Lily Becker.
As of July 2019, more than 80 Becker-owned items have been auctioned. These included trophies, tennis rackets, photos, watches, and the “Bambi” of the tennis star. However, some important prizes were missing from the foreclosure sale and could not be found.
A diplomatic passport from the Central African Republic caused an uproar
Part of Becker’s debts were settled with proceeds of about 765,000 euros. In November 2019, it was decreed that Baker would have to submit to the insolvency requirements of the British authorities for another twelve years because he had not fully disclosed his assets. The responsible insolvency authority said the extension of the procedure until October 16, 2031 was aimed at preventing “Mr. Baker from causing further harm to his creditors”.
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The allegation that Baker wanted to use a diplomatic passport from the Central African Republic to obtain benefits in insolvency proceedings also caused quite a stir. In the proceedings, he wanted to assert diplomatic immunity by referring to his position as sports attaché in the representation of the Central African Republic to the European Union in Brussels.
It is clear that there was a disagreement between the president and the foreign minister of the African country over Baker’s diplomatic status. In June 2018, then-Secretary of State Charles Armel Dupin announced that the diplomatic passport was forged.
At the time, Baker dismissed this as “ridiculous” in an interview with Bild and at the same time emphasized that he did not want the diplomatic passport to be used in bankruptcy proceedings. The insolvency administrator was not affected by the document anyway. Now Baker has to contend with allegations of bankruptcy in his adoptive country. If he doesn’t succeed in nullifying it, the German tennis legend could end up in prison. (dpa)
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