LONDON – Tennis great Boris Becker, who is on trial in London accused of failing to hand over his assets after he was declared bankrupt, has told a jury about his struggles with money including payments for an “expensive divorce” and debts when he lost large chunks of his income after retirement.
Becker, 54, said Monday he wasn’t able to earn enough to pay his debts because of bad publicity when his reputation declined. He said he had “expensive lifestyle commitments” including a house in Wimbledon that cost 22,000 pounds ($28,800) in rent each month.
He added that his divorce with ex-wife Barbara Becker in 2001 involved high child support payments for their two sons. He said that was on top of him having to support his daughter Anna Ermakova and his mother in a deal which included a 2.5-million pound ($3.3 million) London apartment.
Becker was declared bankrupt in June 2017 and is on trial accused of 24 charges including failing to hand over his trophies and other awards, including an Olympic gold medal, and concealing property from bankruptcy trustees.
He allegedly hid over $1 million from the sale of a Mercedes car dealership he owned in Germany, and transferred hundreds of thousands of pounds to other accounts.
The six-time Grand Slam champion denies the charges.
Becker’s bankruptcy resulted from a 4.6 million-euro ($5 million) loan from a private bank in 2013, as well as about $1.6 million borrowed from a British businessman the year after, according to testimony at the trial, which began last week and is ongoing .
Becker also owed Swiss authorities about five million francs ($5.5 million) and just under 1 million euros in liabilities over a conviction for tax evasion and attempted tax evasion in Germany in 2002.
Becker said he struggled to pay back the loans “because various companies didn’t prolong their contracts.”
“My image wasn’t as good any more, brand Becker wasn’t regarded as highly as before and they didn’t want to be associated with a brand that was criticized in the media,” he said. “(It is) very difficult when you are bankrupt and in the headlines every week for it. (It is) very difficult to make a lot of money with my name.”
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