No mercy for Boris Becker! 4.45pm German time is clear: the tennis legend (54) should go to jail. Punishment: Baker was sentenced to two and a half years in prison.
The 54-year-old has to serve half that amount before he is allowed to spend the rest conditionally, according to Judge Deborah Taylor at Southwark Crown Court in London. The three-time winner of Wimbledon was arrested. He now has 28 days to appeal the ruling.
The court declared Baker bankrupt in 2017, after which he was forced to reveal his assets. However, he concealed several possessions. Three weeks ago, a jury found the German guilty of 4 out of 24 counts.
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Ordinary judges found that Becker hid real estate in his hometown of Lehmen estimated at 1.2 million euros, illegally transferred a total of 427,000 euros to accounts and other shares in an artificial intelligence company worth 78,600 euros and hid a loan debt of 825,000 euros.
Judge Taylor criticized Baker for not showing any remorse and for trying to distance himself from the advisers he blamed for his problems. He knew his obligations due to bankruptcy. A large sum of money is lost forever and cannot benefit Baker’s creditors. At the same time, Taylor admitted that Baker’s career and image had finally been destroyed.
Photo: Frank Augstein/AP
Taylor sentenced Baker to two and a half years in prison for the unauthorized and intentional transfer of hundreds of thousands of euros. Because of the other three convictions, she was ordered to be in prison for 18 months. Since the sentences are officially executed in parallel, the total prison term was 30 months. The insolvency authority (Insolvency Service) said after the ruling was announced that it clearly shows “that hiding assets in bankruptcy is a serious crime, and we pursue the perpetrators and bring them to justice.”
Attorney General Rebecca Chalkley had previously charged Baker with a serious breach of trust. She also noted that he had been convicted of tax evasion in Germany – then Judge Taylor mentioned it as an aggravating the sentence.
Chalkley did not say a sentence, but made it clear that she did not believe a suspended sentence was sufficient. The fact that he transferred large sums of money the day after his bankruptcy court order was similar to money laundering.
On the other hand, Jonathan Laidlaw, Baker’s attorney, requested clemency in his closing remarks and called for a suspended sentence of no more than two years. The transfers were payments to his ex-wife Barbara, his wife Lily, and his children, who were dependent on him. Laidlaw admitted that Baker broke the law, but said it was not a serious issue. The 54-year-old was in a desperate financial situation. His career and reputation were destroyed. “He’s practically lost everything,” Laidlaw said. Baker did not comment.
There was a great deal of pressure in Southwark Crown Court to make the decision. So the meeting was moved to a much larger room. As at each session, Baker was accompanied by his partner, Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro, and the couple held hands as they passed several photographers and paparazzi in court. Noah, Baker’s eldest son, carried a packed travel bag that was placed with Baker in the glass case where the accused must be.
The president of the German Tennis Federation (DTB), Detloff von Arnim, confirmed his loyalty to Becker before the verdict was announced. On Friday, on the sidelines of the clay-court championships in Munich, Arnim said he had “undoubtedly been a fantastic success” for German tennis. “I would say we stand there, loyal to our tennis icon.”