Formula One - Bernie Ecclestone pleads guilty to fraud

Bernie Ecclestone, the former boss of Formula One, has admitted fraud after failing to declare more than £400m held in a trust in Singapore. The 92-year-old billionaire did not disclose the trust to the government in July 2015.

He was charged following a tax investigation by HM Revenues and Customs, which said the probe had been “complex and worldwide”. According to the charge, he had told HMRC he was “not the settlor nor beneficiary of any trust in or outside the UK” but investigators uncovered evidence he stood to gain from the arrangement.

Appearing at Southwark Crown Court on Thursday, he told the judge “I plead guilty” after having previously pleaded not guilty.

Speaking in court following Ecclestone’s guilty plea, prosecutor Richard Wright KC said the defendant had knowingly given an “untrue or misleading” answer to HMRC when he told them he had no further trusts outside the UK.

He continued: “As of July 7 2015, Mr Ecclestone did not know the truth of the position, so was not able to give an answer to the question. Mr Ecclestone was not entirely clear on how ownership of the accounts in question were structured. He therefore did not know whether it was liable for tax, interest or penalties in relation to amounts passing through the accounts. Mr Ecclestone recognises it was wrong to answer the questions he did because it ran the risk that HMRC would not continue to investigate his affairs. He now accepts that some tax is due in relation to these matters.”

How much tax, though? Will BE come to an “arrangement” with HMRC?

Ecclestone, who turns 93 later this month, was due to face trial at Southwark Crown Court in November after previously denying the charge.

The billionaire appeared at the same court today wearing a dark grey suit, supported by his third wife, Fabiana Flosi, to plead guilty to a single count of fraud on 7 July 2015.

The court has previously heard he failed to declare a trust in Singapore with a bank account containing around $650m, worth about £400m at the time.

The court heard that Ecclestone reached a civil settlement with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to pay £652.6m on 9 October covering 18 tax years.

I’m sure that someone more competent than myself with calculate the percentages but it does seem that £652.6m is appropriately punitive … :thinking:


I must be nice to forget about the odd £400 million you have.


Sentencing Ecclestone, who heard the judge’s remarks from the dock, Mr Justice Bryan said: "Your offending is so serious that neither a fine nor a community order would be appropriate.

“It is rightly acknowledged that the custody threshold has been passed.”

However, he said that he had taken into consideration a number of mitigating factors, including Ecclestone’s health, age, and that he has no previous criminal convictions.

Quite right, too … banging up Bernie would serve no purpose … :man_shrugging:

Greed !

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