Tennis Star Boris Becker Could Face 7 Years in Jail Over Bankruptcy Charges

On Thursday in London, the three-time Wimbledon champion pleaded not guilty to 19 charges of concealing his financial holdings

Boris Becker
Photo: Anthony Harvey/Shutterstock

Tennis star Boris Becker is facing the toughest match of his life.

On Thursday, the three-time Wimbledon champion appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court in London to deny claims that he concealed a string of valuable holdings from UK insolvency officials handling his 2017 bankruptcy.

If found guilty on all 19 charges heard in the courtroom, the six-time Grand Slam winner faces the possibility of seven years in jail.

"He has been charged with eight counts of concealment of property, five of failure to disclose property, four of material omissions in relation to bank accounts, and two of removal of property," a spokesperson for the UK Insolvency Service confirmed to PEOPLE.

Boris Becker
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The charges against Becker -- who appeared in court wearing a black "Stronger Together" face mask -- relate to his alleged ownership of an apartment in the upscale Chelsea neighborhood of London, plus two additional properties in Germany, reports The Guardian.

German news outlet Bild reports the court also heard that Becker -- who was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2003 -- allegedly hid bank accounts with JP Morgan in Belgium, Julius Baer in Guernsey and Volksbank Kraichgau in Germany from UK officials, at a time when he was legally bound to disclose his full financial details as part of the bankruptcy deal.

Becker is also accused of hiding close to $1 million in debt, plus 75,000 shares in the Artificial Intelligence company Breaking Data Corp, The Guardian added.

Boris Becker

"When people enter into bankruptcy, they have to declare all their assets so that there's a true picture of what they own, what they don't, and what can be paid back to their creditors," a UK legal expert tells PEOPLE.

"The charges are around claims that Boris didn't provide a full picture of assets and property. Essentially, Boris was bankrupt and it's all to do with concealing property from the official receiver."

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Becker will next appear in court on Oct. 22 at a pre-trial hearing before a judge at Southwark Crown Court in London.

On Friday, Becker tweeted his desire to fight the charges until the end.

"Innocent until proven guilty! I deny the accusations against me and will defend myself with all legal means!" he wrote.

"I believe in the British legal system and its representatives! My team will prove my innocence in due course!!!"

Becker was released on conditional bail at the close of Thursday's hearing and he's placed his passport in the care of his attorney, Bild reports. He is now living in a luxury apartment in Battersea, London.

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