Tennis: Retired star Becker used business account as 'piggy bank', court hears

Former Wimbledon Boris Becker arriving with his partner Lillian de Carvalho at Southwark Crown Court on March 22, 2022. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LONDON (AFP) - Six-time Grand Slam champion Boris Becker used his business account as a "piggy bank" to pay for luxury shopping expenses and school fees, a British court was told on Tuesday (March 22).

Becker is on trial charged with 24 offences relating to his 2017 bankruptcy over a £3.5 million (S$6.3 million) loan from private bank Arbuthnot Latham for a property in Spain.

Despite his financial difficulties, the 54-year-old German spent hundreds of pounds at luxury London department store Harrods and treated himself to designer clothes, a jury at Southwark Crown Court in London heard.

The former world No. 1 is alleged to have hidden €1.13 million (S$1.7 million) from the sale of a Mercedes car dealership he owned in Germany, which was paid into his Boris Becker Private Office (BBPOL) account.

"It is the prosecution case that Mr Becker used the BBPOL sterling account as an extension of his own account, effectively as his own piggy bank, for everyday personal expenses such as school fees for the children and suchlike," said prosecutor Rebecca Chalkley.

She said payments in 2017 included £643 to Polo Ralph Lauren, £7,600 for school fees and £976 to Harrods.

Jurors heard Becker paid substantial sums to ex-wife Barbara Becker, estranged wife Sharlely "Lilly" Becker and a friend.

Becker was also said to have transferred €300,000 to his own account, while other funds went into an account he jointly held with his son Noah.

The German is also accused of failing to hand over assets including his 1985 and 1989 Wimbledon trophies and his Australian Open silverware from 1991 and 1996.

He allegedly failed to declare two German properties, as well as his interest in a London flat, and hid a €825,000 bank loan.

Becker, who won 49 singles titles during his 16-year playing career, including six Grand Slam trophies, is being supported in court by his partner Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro.

He denies all the charges against him, which include nine counts of failing to deliver trophies and other awards.

The trial is expected to last for up to three weeks.

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