Boris Becker accused of hiding tennis trophies during bankruptcy

Haroon Siddique
·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Karwai Tang/WireImage</span>
Photograph: Karwai Tang/WireImage

Boris Becker has been charged with concealing trophies and medals won during his illustrious tennis career, including two from his three Wimbledon singles victories, from bankruptcy trustees.

Appearing at Southwark crown court in London on Thursday, Becker, already facing 19 existing charges relating to a failure to comply with legal obligations to disclose information, was hit with nine additional counts that allege he hid some of the spoils of his playing career to avoid them being sold to settle debts.

One of the new accusations relates to his 1985 All England Club trophy, when he became the youngest Wimbledon men’s singles champion at the age of 17 years and seven months, catapulting him to global fame.

The 52-year-old German, who was declared bankrupt in June 2017, arrived at court wearing a black face mask bearing the logo Stronger Together, grey suit and blue and white striped tie. He spoke only to confirm his name, deny all 28 counts and to confirm that he understood he would face arrest if he did not appear for the trial, scheduled for 13 September next year.

The other prizes he is accused of concealing are the President’s Cup from 1985 and 1989, a 1988 Davis Cup gold coin and 1989 Davis Cup trophy, the 1989 Wimbledon trophy, 1991 and 1996 Australian Open trophies and a 1992 Olympic gold medal.

The indictment accuses Becker of concealing property from bankruptcy trustees by, among other means, transferring sums of money to a number of individuals, including a total of €44,372.90 (£40,000) over two separate transactions to his ex-wife Barbara Becker in 2017. The couple divorced in 2001.

He is also accused of – again in two separate transactions – transferring a total of €105,497 to his now estranged wife, Sharlely Becker, in 2017. The couple separated in 2018.

Becker was charged last year with hiding assets including a Chelsea flat and £1.2m in cash from bankruptcy trustees, in a prosecution that could lead to seven years in jail.

At a hearing at Westminster magistrates court in September last year, the court heard he owned a flat in Coleherne Court in Chelsea, west London, as well as two properties in Germany, which went undeclared between June and October 2017. He also concealed debt worth £754,190 and a bank account holding £1.2m, plus 75,000 shares in the artificial intelligence company Breaking Data Corp, the court was told.

The 19 pre-existing counts consist of seven charges of concealing property, four counts of omitting statements relating to bank accounts with JP Morgan Belgium and Julius Baer Guernsey, two counts of removing property required by the receiver, five counts of failing to disclose details of his estate and one count of concealing debt.

Becker was the first German champion of the Wimbledon men’s singles and the first unseeded winner.

The former world No 1 and six-time grand slam champion collected 49 singles titles out of 77 finals during his 16 years as a professional.

He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2003 and appears regularly as an expert summariser and commentator on the BBC. He also coached the current world men’s No 1, Novak Djokovic, from 2013 to 2016 – a period that yielded six grand slam titles.