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Boris Becker Possibly Liable for Business Losses

DW staff (dc)
May 8, 2006

Boris Becker faced defeat Monday not on the tennis court, but in a court of law. As a result, Becker now faces a new trial on whether or not he is liable for debts incurred through his failed Internet sports portal.

Becker's business failures could come back to haunt himImage: dpa

Three-time Wimbledon champion Becker could still be held liable for the sum of 1.5 million euros ($1.9 million) following the collapse of his Sportgate venture, Germany's federal court of justice in Karlsruhe decided on Monday.

The federal court overturned a ruling by a lower court in Munich that said Becker, 38, was not liable for the debt from the failed Internet portal.

The Munich court's earlier judgement was based on the fact that the contract which made Becker liable for the losses was written in English and had been signed by the former tennis star in Washington -- therefore making the contract inadmissible in a German court.

Contract written in hotel bar

Boris Becker eröffnet Messe in Schanghai
Becker at a sports trade show in ShanghaiImage: dpa

In July 2000 following the founding of the sports platform, Becker allowed an employee of a Washington hotel bar to write a declaration making him liable for 1.5 million euros in the case of losses at Sportgate -- a declaration which he then signed. While at the bar, Becker also had a conversation with a board member and a representative of one of a further founder of Sportgate.

The sports portal was meant to be publicly listed in 2002, but in August 2001, the company filed for bankruptcy. Following the collapse, Becker never paid the 1.5 million euros.

While the Munich court saw the declaration as a gift that had never been properly drafted by a notary, the federal judge saw things differently. As a founding member and contributor of 5 percent of the starting capital, Becker had an interest in creating a basis of trust for the establishment of the company, the judge ruled.

Now, the case is back in the hands of the Munich court, which has to conduct a re-trial.

With his Wimbledon days behind him, Becker now makes a living mainly from working as a TV presenter and tennis commentator.

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