Africa

Boris Becker insists CAR diplomatic passport is genuine

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Media captionBoris Becker: "I believed the documents they were giving me must be right"

Former tennis champion Boris Becker has told the BBC he has a genuine diplomatic passport issued by the Central African Republic (CAR), despite CAR officials saying it is fake.

Lawyers for Mr Becker say he is immune from bankruptcy proceedings in London because he holds diplomatic status.

But the CAR's foreign minister says the passport is fake and he has asked the justice minister to investigate.

Mr Becker said he was happy to go to the CAR to end the "misunderstanding".

"I don't know what is internally happening within the politics [of CAR] but I have received the passport from the ambassador," he told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.

"I have spoken to the president on many occasions. I believe the documents they have given me must be right."

Asked if he would be willing to go the CAR if requested, he said: "I am very happy, any time soon, to visit Bangui, the capital, and to speak to the people personally about how we can move forward and how we can resolve this misunderstanding and this confusion."

Mr Becker was declared bankrupt in 2017 over money owed to private bank Arbuthnot Latham and is now being pursued for "further assets".

Lawyers for the 50-year-old three-time Wimbledon champion told a court hearing in London that he was appointed a sport and culture attache to the EU by the CAR in April.

In that month he tweeted a picture of himself shaking hands with CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadera in Brussels.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Boris Becker was pictured shaking hands with the president of CAR in April

In a statement issued on Friday by his lawyers, Mr Becker said the furore was a "storm in a teacup".

"Someone seems to have got their wires crossed in the Central African Republic, but my appointment was entirely official and above board, and was made by the president. Everyone's seen the photos published when my appointment was announced. This fuss about documents is pretty irrelevant."

Earlier this week, CAR foreign ministry chief of staff Cherubin Moroubama told AFP news agency the serial number on the document matched one of a batch of "new passports that were stolen in 2014".

He added that the diplomatic passport, dated 19 March 2018, did not bear the signature or the stamp of the foreign minister.

The tennis star became the first German to win Wimbledon in 1985, aged 17.

He won it again in 1986 and 1989 among the 64 ATP Tour titles he claimed during a 15-year career.

After retiring as a player he became a commentator with the BBC.

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