Ex-F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone to pay £400m to Britain’s tax authorities after admitting tax fraud

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Ex-Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has avoided an immediate prison sentence after pleading guilty in a London court to misleading Britain’s tax authority about overseas his assets worth more than 400 million pounds ($492 million).

Per today’s civil settlement agreement with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the 92-year-old will pay a penalty of 652.6 million pounds. That amount will cover accumulated tax, interest and penalties for the period between 1994 and 2022.

Ecclestone admitted one count of fraud by false representation to the Southwark Crown Court on Thursday, more than a month before his trial date.

In his testimony, Ecclestone admitted providing a misleading response to HMRC during a July 2015 interview. In the said meeting, Ecclestone claimed he had established a single trust in favor of his daughters. He further claimed that he was neither a beneficiary or nor a settlor of any other trust.

Presiding Judge Simon Bryan ruled against Ecclestone, announcing a 17-month prison sentence suspended for two years. This means Ecclestone will avoid jail term if he does not commit another criminal offence within the period in question.

Ecclestone’s lawyer Clare Montgomery prayed the court to consider his clients lack of education on the subject, insisting that Ecclestone “did not know the true position” about whether he was the beneficiary or settlor of any other trust.

“He should have said ‘I don’t know’ rather than ‘No’,” Montgomery said. She also claimed that Ecclestone’s answer to HMRC was an “impulsive lapse of judgment”.

However, the Prosecution challenged this and secured the verdict against Ecclestone.

Richard Las, chief investigation officer and director of the Fraud Investigation Service at HMRC, said: “Bernie Ecclestone has had ample time and numerous opportunities to take responsibility and be honest with HMRC about his tax affairs.

“Instead of taking these opportunities he lied to HMRC and as a result we opened a criminal investigation.

“This investigation has involved enquiries around the world and culminated with Bernie Ecclestone’s guilty plea to fraud. He now has a criminal record and has paid 652 million pounds relating to his wider tax affairs.”

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