On Friday 29 April 2022, former tennis star Boris Becker was sentenced to two and a half years in jail after being found guilty of four charges under the Insolvency Act 1986.

Boris Becker is a famed tennis star. At the age of 17, in 1985 he became the youngest singles male player to win the Wimbledon Championships. Throughout his tennis career it is estimated that he earnt in excess of £40 million.

Despite his substantial earnings, in 2017 Mr Becker was made bankrupt under English law. Upon his bankruptcy, he owed nearly £50 million to his creditors.

When a person is made bankrupt, that individual has obligations under the Insolvency Act 1986 to comply with the reasonable requests of the person appointed to deal with their bankrupt estate (either the Official Receiver or a Trustee in Bankruptcy). Compliance is normally achieved by the bankrupt disclosing their assets and providing a full list of their creditors. These obligations are imposed to assist the Official Receiver or Trustee in Bankruptcy in realising the bankrupt’s assets to distribute them to the bankrupt’s creditors.

Usually, when the bankrupt complies with these obligations, they are discharged from bankruptcy one year after the date they were made bankrupt. However, where the bankrupt fails to comply, the Official Receiver or Trustee in Bankruptcy can apply to have the bankruptcy extended, until the bankrupt complies.

This is what happened with Mr Becker’s bankruptcy. Mr Becker failed to disclose assets and also concealed some of his debt. The Court found that Mr Becker had failed to declare to his Trustee in Bankruptcy that he had a share in a £1 million property in Germany and that he had a bank loan of nearly £700,000 secured against that property. Further, he did not declare that he had shares in a technology business worth £66,000. Mr Becker was however acquitted on 20 charges, which included failing to hand over tennis trophies and medals.

Mr Becker’s failings should be taken as a cautionary tale to those who have been made bankrupt about the importance of complying with the Official Receiver or Trustee in Bankruptcy and declaring all of your assets and creditors. Failure to do so can result in your bankruptcy being extended and, as in Mr Becker’s case, criminal sanctions.

If you, as a bankrupt or someone holding information relating to a bankrupt, has been asked for information by the Official Receiver or a Trustee in Bankruptcy, we can advise you on how to comply with your obligations under the Insolvency Act 1986. If you would like to speak with a member of our specialist insolvency team, please call us on 0845 287 0939, contact us by email, or chat to us through the online chat below.