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Becker to stand trial on tax evasion

Berlin: Three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker will stand trial next month on tax evasion charges, the state prosecutor investigating the case said on Friday.

ďThe charges have been admitted to court without modifications,Ē Munich prosecutor Matthias Musiol said, denying earlier reports in the German press that Becker had agreed a settlement and would pay back taxes to avoid prosecution.

Prosecutors accuse Becker of withholding taxes from German authorities between 1991 and 1993. They allege that early in his career he told them his residence was in Monaco, a tax heaven, while he was in fact living in Munich. Beckerís lawyers said last year that the Munich tax inspectorate has asked their client to pay 12 million euros.

The 34-year-old Becker faces a suspended jail term of up to two years if convicted. His trial is scheduled from October 23 to 25 in Munich.

The former world number one has been through hard times since retiring from competitive tennis three years ago.

The player who became the youngest Wimbledonís menís champion in 1985, aged 17 years seven months, has lost much of his fortune following a costly divorce, a settlement to a pregnant lover and a string of failed businesses.

Becker, who remains popular in Germany despite his setbacks, has said his personal life spun into crisis after his father, Karl-Heinz, died in 1999.

After playing Wimbledon one last time that year, Becker tried his luck in sports marketing and advertising. He attracted unwanted publicity when he divorced his wife of seven years, the German-American Barbara Feltus, and agreed to a multi-million dollar settlement.

Becker then admitted fathering a baby girl in London with Russian model Angela Ermakova and promised to support the child.

The winner of 49 career titles, including six Grand Slams, Becker topped the menís rankings for a short spell in 1991. After bursting into the limelight with his first Wimbledon triumph, he won two more titles at the All England Club, in 1986 and 1989. He also won the US Open in 1989 and the Australian Open in 1991 and 1996.

Recently he returned to the court for a series of exhibition matches, showing some flashes of his former prowess. Last month in Berlin, before a sell-out crowd and national television audience, he beat long-time rival Michael Stich.

(Reuters)

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