17:34, December 03 34 0 theguardian.com

2018-12-03 17:34:07
Boris Becker ends diplomatic immunity defence from bankruptcy

The former world No 1 tennis player Boris Becker has dropped his claim to have diplomatic immunity from bankruptcy.

The three-time Wimbledon champion had argued his appointment by the Central African Republic as a sporting, cultural and humanitarian attache to the European Union meant he could not be subjected to legal proceedings.

But, after being told on Monday that Becker was no longer pursuing that claim, a judge made a court order extending his bankruptcy indefinitely. As a result, a planned auction of his trophies and memorabilia – previously put on hold – will go ahead.

The 50-year-old German was declared bankrupt in June 2017 by registrar Christine Derrett. The bankruptcy was due to be discharged in June, which would have released him from his debts, but that was put on hold to allow further investigation of the diplomatic immunity issue.

However, lawyers acting for the bankruptcy trustees told a specialist insolvency court in London that Becker had now dropped his claim.

Tony Beswetherick, for the trustees, said Becker wrote in an email that he had “no alternative but to abandon the claim for diplomatic immunity” and was “not in a position” financially to pursue any part of his case.

Judge Schaffer, hearing the case, made an order which suspends the discharge of Becker’s bankruptcy indefinitely. He told the court Becker’s finances may be scrutinised if he failed to cooperate with the trustees.

At the June hearing, lawyers acting for the bankruptcy trustees claimed Becker had not cooperated fully with them by not providing “full and accurate information” about his assets. The allegation related to two German properties, a property in London, an interest in three Mercedes dealerships and various tennis trophies and memorabilia.

Becker was granted an injunction at a later hearing in June to block a planned auction of trophies and memorabilia worth an estimated £200,000. The items include a certificate commemorating his men’s doubles gold medal win with Michael Stich in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, a sweater, wristbands and socks.

Becker, who did not attend the hearing and was not represented by lawyers, had intended to argue that these items were “exempt” from the bankruptcy proceedings. However, Beswetherick said he had also withdrawn that part of his case.

The bankruptcy application was made by bankers Arbuthnot Latham in connection with a judgment debt dating back to 2015.

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