Former tennis star Boris Becker has to answer in a criminal case at London’s Southwark Crown Court from Monday. It relates to various allegations regarding his bankruptcy proceedings.
According to the court, the 54-year-old Londoner has to appear in person at the hearing. He faces up to seven years in prison.
More than 20 charges include the fact that Baker was said to have attempted to withdraw money and valuables as well as real estate from the insolvency official’s access.
He is accused, for example, of diverting money to his ex-wives, Barbara and Lilly, of failing to publicize property ownership and of not handing over trophies from his career, including the trophy for his first Wimbledon win in 1985. However, a large portion of his estate has already been sold. Previous Tennis Ace Awards Auctioned.
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 trial date has been set for three weeks
Baker denies these allegations. The three-time Wimbledon champion and six-time Grand Slam champion pleaded not guilty to all charges at a first hearing. The process is scheduled to take up to three weeks.
Before the trial, Becker was confident: “I am a positive person, I always believe in good things and in the English judiciary,” he told Bild am Sonntag in February. He announced that he would personally try to “refute the allegations relating to each of the 24 counts.”
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).
Although personal bankruptcy in England can usually be completed within 12 months, the process has been going on ever since. The various terms against Baker were extended to a twelve-year period.
It was not initially clear how much money the former tennis star still had to pay and when the bankruptcy proceedings would end. No matter what, Becker told Bild am Sonntag, “My bankruptcy will continue. It ends the moment everything that belonged to me is sold off.”
Numerous legal disputes
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.
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 of “Boom-Boom-Boris” with his native Germany cooled 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.
As of July 2019, more than 80 Becker-owned items have been auctioned. These included trophies, tennis rackets, photos, watches and a “Bambi” of the tennis star. However, some important prizes were missing from the foreclosure sale and could not be found.
The diplomatic passport of 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)