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Boris Becker on trial accused of failing to hand over tennis trophies to settle debts
21 March 2022, 16:09 | Updated: 21 March 2022, 16:10
Six-time Grand Slam tennis champion Boris Becker appeared in court today accused of failing to hand over his trophies to settle debts.
The 54-year-old former pro turned commentator, who was declared bankrupt in June 2017, is alleged to have concealed more than 1.5 million euros (around £1.3 million) and failed to disclose two properties in Germany as well as a flat in Chelsea, west London.
He appeared at Southwark Crown Court today alongside his girlfriend Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro. The judge told jurors to "start with a blank page" and "ignore this defendant's celebrity" ahead of the opening of the case.
German national Becker is accused of removing hundreds of thousands of pounds by transferring it to other accounts, including those of former wife Barbara Becker and estranged wife Sharlely "Lilly" Becker.
The former world number one is also said to have failed to hand over trophies including for the 1985 and 1989 Wimbledon men's singles title, his Australian Open trophies from 1991 and 1996 and his 1992 Olympic gold medal.
Becker, who commentated for the BBC at Wimbledon last year, is facing a three-week trial at Southwark Crown Court, where he denies 24 charges under the Insolvency Act between May and October 2017.
They include nine counts of failing to deliver up trophies and other awards and seven counts of concealing property totalling more than 1.5 million euros.
He is also charged with five counts of failing to disclose estate, including the properties in Germany and London, shares and a bank account, two of removal of property amounting to almost 500,000 euros (more than £400,000) and one of concealing 825,000 euros (almost £700,000) of debt.
The prosecution is being brought by the Insolvency Service on behalf of Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.
Becker, who collected 49 singles titles out of 77 finals during his 16 years as a professional tennis player, arrived at court on Monday morning hand in hand with his partner Lilian de Carvalho Monteiro.
He sat in the dock, wearing a dark suit and white shirt, next to a German translator, who is assisting him during the trial.
Judge Deborah Taylor said it was not suggested Becker "does not speak English" but said he may need help with "technical vocabulary such as legal concepts".
She told the 11 men and one woman sworn in to try Becker: "You must leave aside anything you have heard or any preconceptions about this case, including anything about this defendant, and start with a blank page.
"You must ignore this defendant's celebrity and treat him in exactly the same way you would treat someone you have not heard of and is not in the public eye."
Prosecutor Rebecca Chalkley is expected to open the case later on Monday afternoon.