Tennis star Boris Becker blames bad publicity for not paying his debts

Former tennis star Boris Becker told a jury that bad publicity damaged his personal brand, which meant he couldn’t make enough money to pay off his debts.

The six-time Grand Slam champion, 54, is on trial at Southwark Crown Court, south London, accused of failing to hand over assets, including nine trophies and medals, after being declared bankrupt in June 2017.

The star testified Monday in his defense against 24 counts under insolvency law.

He told the court that a number of high-profile breakups and bad publicity led to a drop in his earnings.

“My image wasn’t as good anymore, the Becker brand wasn’t as well regarded as it used to be and they didn’t want to be associated with a brand that was criticized in the media,” he said.

The court heard the former world No.

Mr Becker, who went on to coach current world number one tennis player Novak Djokovic, worked as a BBC commentator and acted as a brand ambassador for companies such as Puma, but said his income had “decreased considerably” after his retirement from professional tennis in 1999.

He said he was involved in an “expensive divorce” from ex-wife Barbara Becker in 2001, involving high maintenance payments to their two sons, and had to support his daughter Anna Ermakova and her mother , in a deal that included £2.5million. ($3.2 million) apartment in Chelsea, West London.

“I had a very expensive divorce and [had to pay] support for my daughter and her mother too, all at the same time,” he said.

German citizen Mr Becker, who resided in Monte Carlo and Switzerland before moving to the UK in 2012, said he had “expensive lifestyle commitments”, including a £22,000 rented house £ per month in Wimbledon, South West London.

He also owed Swiss authorities £4million and separately more than £800,000 in debt following a conviction for tax evasion and attempted tax evasion dating back to 2002.

The court heard Mr Becker’s bankruptcy stemmed from a £3.85m loan from private bank Arbuthnot Latham in 2013 and £1.2m, with an interest rate of 25 %, borrowed from British businessman John Caudwell the following year.

At the time, he estimated his annual earnings to be £2.5million, but said his ‘earnings had dropped by at least 50%’ and he was struggling to make repayments.

“The first year of the loan, I would repay around 1 million euros [$1.1m] but the second year I had difficulties because various companies did not extend their contracts,” he said.

Mr Becker said he had faced publicity “all over the world”, but especially in Germany and the UK, which affected his ability to earn money.

“[It is] very difficult when you are bankrupt and it makes the headlines every week. [It is] very difficult to make a lot of money with my name,” he said.

Mr Becker denies the charges, which include nine counts of failure to present trophies and other awards, seven of concealment of property, five of non-disclosure of estate, two of removal of property and one of concealment of debts.

He is also accused of failing to hand over nine trophies, including two of his three men’s singles cups at Wimbledon, an Olympic gold medal, his 1991 and 1996 Australian Open trophies and his Davis Cup and its gold coin.

It is alleged he hid £1.13million from the sale of a Mercedes car dealership he owned in Germany and transferred hundreds of thousands of pounds to other accounts, including those of his ex-wife Barbara Becker and his ex-wife Sharlely Becker, the mother of his fourth child.

He is also accused of failing to declare two German properties, as well as his interest in the apartment occupied by his daughter, and of concealing an €825,000 bank loan and shares in a technology company.

Mr Becker was shot to stardom when he became the youngest player to win the Wimbledon men’s singles title, aged 17, in 1985.

The trial continues.

Updated: March 28, 2022, 4:46 p.m.

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