Tennis star Boris Becker ‘offered up wedding ring as he tried to pay off his debts’ trial told

Six-time grand slam champion accused of hiding or failing to hand over assets, including nine trophies and medals

Wednesday 23 March 2022 18:52 GMT
Boris Becker denies 24 offences under the Insolvency Act
Boris Becker denies 24 offences under the Insolvency Act (PA Wire)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

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Tennis star Boris Becker offered up his wedding ring as he tried to pay off his debts, a court has heard.

The six-time grand slam champion, 54, also wanted to sell his €10m estate (around £8.3m) in Mallorca in a bid to overturn his bankruptcy, a jury was told.

Former world No 1 Becker is accused of hiding or failing to hand over assets, including nine trophies and medals from his career – among them two of his three Wimbledon men’s singles titles and his 1992 Olympic gold medal.

The German national was declared bankrupt on 21 June 2017, owing private bank Arbuthnot Latham more than £3m for a loan on the Balearic island property known as the Finca.

Southwark Crown Court heard on Wednesday Becker was interviewed at his home in Wimbledon on 11 July 2017 by Michael Bint, a deputy official receiver at the Insolvency Service.

Mr Bint agreed with Becker’s barrister, Jonathan Laidlaw QC, that the commentator “was being cooperative” during the hour-long conversation conducted in rushed circumstances because he was working for the BBC at the nearby tennis tournament.

Boris Becker arriving at Southwark Crown Court with partner Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro on Monday
Boris Becker arriving at Southwark Crown Court with partner Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro on Monday (PA Wire)

“He offered to let you walk around the house in Wimbledon to see what was there, he volunteered an expensive wedding ring to you,” said Mr Laidlaw.

“His overriding concern was to seek an annulment of the bankruptcy, to pay the debt, by the sale of the Finca, to Arbuthnot Latham.”

The court heard Becker was interrupted some 20 times by his adviser, who spoke of “work in progress” or “investigations being in hand” on at least 14 occasions.

And Mr Bint admitted he had failed to get Becker to sign a preliminary information questionnaire (PIQB) document – the only time he has done so in hundreds of cases since 2007.

“Mr Becker had to simply run away to go to Wimbledon,” he said. “Normally I would ask for a signed copy.”

As well as failing to offer up memorabilia, including Becker’s 1991 and 1996 Australian Open trophies and his Davis Cup trophy and gold coin, he also allegedly hid €1.13m from the sale of a Mercedes car dealership he owned in Germany.

The money is said to have been paid into his Boris Becker Private Office Ltd (BBPOL) business account.

Becker with Andre Agassi at the 1991 French Open
Becker with Andre Agassi at the 1991 French Open (AFP/Getty)

Jurors have heard this was used as his own “piggy bank” to pay personal expenses, such as his children’s school fees, and to shop at luxury London department store Harrods, online grocer Ocado, and designer clothes retailer Ralph Lauren.

Becker is said to have transferred hundreds of thousands of pounds to other accounts, including those of his ex-wife Barbara Becker and estranged wife Sharlely “Lilly” Becker.

He also allegedly failed to declare two German properties, as well as his interest in a £2.25m flat in Chelsea, west London, occupied by his daughter Anna Ermakova, and hid an €825,000 bank loan.

Becker, who won 49 singles titles in 77 finals during his 16 years as a professional tennis player, is being supported in court by his partner Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro.

He denies 24 offences under the Insolvency Act, including nine counts of failing to hand over trophies and other awards, seven of concealing property, five of failing to disclose estate, two of removal of property and one of concealing debt.

The court has heard he has a previous conviction for tax evasion and attempted tax evasion in Germany in 2002 after living in the country while officially a resident of Monaco.

The trial continues.

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