By Crispin Dembassa-Kette
BANGUI (Reuters) - Central African Republic's foreign minister told Reuters on Tuesday that a copy of former tennis champion Boris Becker's diplomatic passport he had seen was a "clumsy fake".
Becker said he has claimed diplomatic immunity from bankruptcy proceedings in London by taking up a role with Central African Republic (CAR) as a sports envoy.
"The signature on the passport was not mine and the number belongs to a series that was stolen during the transitional government" set up in 2014 after the country's civil conflict, said Charles Armel Doubane by telephone.
Becker's lawyer was not immediately available for comment.
He added that CAR was launching an inquiry into who issued the phoney diplomatic passport to Becker.
"The copy of Boris Becker's passport that I saw and that has been circulating on social media is a clumsy fake," Doubane said.
Becker, 50, was declared bankrupt by a British court in 2017 in connection to a debt to private bankers Arbuthnot Latham & Co. He has recently been pursued for "further assets", according to a statement by his lawyers.
The German former world number 1 lodged a claim at the High Court in London to halt the case because his appointment as Attache to the European Union for CAR on sporting, cultural and humanitarian affairs entitled him to immunity under the 1961 Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations.
Central African Republic has suffered a string of bloody political crises since former president Francois Bozize seized power in a 2003 military coup, culminating in a 2012-2014 civil conflict that killed thousands and displaced millions.
(Additional reporting by Andrew MacAskill in London; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Gareth Jones)