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Boris Becker guilty, could face jail

LONDON (AP) – Tennis great Boris Becker could face a jail sentence after being found guilty on Friday of illicitly moving thousands of pounds from a bank account after he was declared bankrupt.

A jury at London’s Southwark Crown Court convicted Becker on four charges under the Insolvency Act, including removal of property, concealing debt and two counts of failing to disclose estate.

The German star was found to have transferred hundreds of thousands of pounds (dollars) after his June 2017 bankruptcy from his business account to other accounts, including those of his ex-wife Barbara and estranged wife Sharlely “Lilly” Becker.

He was also convicted of failing to declare a property in Germany and hiding an EUR825,000 (USD895,000) bank loan and shares in a tech firm.

He was acquitted on 20 other counts, including charges that he failed to hand over his many awards, including two Wimbledon trophies and an Olympic gold medal.

Former tennis player Boris Becker arrives at Southwark Crown Court, in London. PHOTO: AP

The six-time Grand Slam champion had denied all the charges, saying he had cooperated with trustees tasked with securing his assets – even offering up his wedding ring – and had acted on expert advice.

Becker’s bankruptcy stemmed from a EUR4.6 million (USD5 million) loan from a private bank in 2013, as well as about USD1.6 million borrowed from a British businessman the year after, according to testimony at the trial.

During the trial Becker, 54, said his USD50 million career earnings had been swallowed up by payments for an “expensive divorce” and debts when he lost large chunks of his income after retirement.

He said he had “expensive lifestyle commitments” including a house in Wimbledon that cost GBP22,000 (USD28,800) in rent each month. But he said bad publicity had damaged “brand Becker”, making it hard for him to earn enough to pay off his debts.

“(It is) very difficult when you are bankrupt and in the headlines every week for it,” he told the jury. “(It is) very difficult to make a lot of money with my name.”

The charges carry a maximum sentence of seven years in prison. Becker was granted bail until a sentencing hearing on April 29.