Boris Becker to Serve Time for Bankruptcy-Related Offences
Former tennis star and Wimbledon commentator Boris Becker has been jailed for two and a half years after being found guilty of 4 bankruptcy offences relating to removal of property, failure to disclose assets and concealment of debt.
He was once the no.1 ranked tennis player in the world and has three Wimbledon titles among his grand-slam achievements. However, unfortunately for Boris Becker, the glory days will likely seem a lifetime ago following his recent sentencing at Southwark Crown Court on 29 April 2022.
Becker was sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment following a guilty verdict on four counts under the Insolvency Act 1986 on 4 April 2022. The offences, each carrying a maximum sentence of 7 years imprisonment, related to his duties to the trustees in bankruptcy appointed as trustees of his estate following a bankruptcy order in June 2017. These included:
- Removing property totalling €426,930.90 from his bankrupt estate, including transfers to his ex-wives (count 4)
- Failing to disclose ownership of a property in Leiman in Germany (count 10)
- Concealment of a loan of €825,000 from the Bank of Alpinum of Lichtenstein (count 13)
- Failing to disclose ownership of 75,057 shares in Breaking Data Corp (count 14).
The judge sentenced Becker to two and a half years for count 4, and 18 months each for counts 10,13 and 14, which will all run concurrently.
The prosecution was brought by the Insolvency Service acting on behalf of the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Following the guilty verdict on 4 April 2022, Dean Beale, chief executive of the Insolvency Service, commented:
“Today’s verdict confirms that Boris Becker failed to comply with his legal obligation to declare significant assets in his bankruptcy. This conviction serves as a clear warning to those who think they can hide their assets and get away with it. You will be found out and prosecuted.”
What are bankruptcy offences?
Having been made bankrupt in June 2017, trustees in bankruptcy were subsequently appointed as trustees of Becker’s estate. The role of a trustee in bankruptcy, as defined in the Insolvency Act, is to “get in, realise and distribute the bankrupt’s estate”. The Act therefore prescribes certain offences where it appears that the bankrupt is attempting to interfere with the trustees’ duties, with criminal penalties for those that do. Offences include:
- Non-disclosure of assets
- Concealment of property, books and papers (including falsification)
- Fraudulent disposal of property
- Obtaining credit, engaging in business
Whilst the above is not an exhaustive list of bankruptcy offences, it sets the tone which is that the bankrupt must be completely honest and upfront about the extent of their estate. In Becker’s case, he relied solely on the advice of others, and ignored key letters relating to the bankruptcy proceedings. As evidenced by the guilty verdict, such complacency will not be tolerated by the Insolvency Service.
Whilst many are shocked by the jailing of such an iconic celebrity, particularly for bankruptcy-related offences, the case serves as a stark warning to all individuals that are faced with a bankruptcy order. Honest and accurate disclosure of assets is key, and professional (including financial and legal) advice should be sought if in doubt.
Find out more about Geldards’ Business Insolvency team and how we can help you and your company.