Ex-Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone pleads guilty to £400 million fraud

12 October 2023, 09:56 | Updated: 12 October 2023, 10:16

Bernie Ecclestone arriving at court
Bernie Ecclestone arriving at court. Picture: Alamy

By StephenRigley

Ex-Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has pleaded guilty to failing to declare £400million of overseas assets to the government.

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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.

The 92-year-old said "I plead guilty" at Southwark Crown Court on Thursday while standing in the well of the court wearing a dark suit and grey tie.

Bernie Ecclestone
Bernie Ecclestone. Picture: Alamy

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On July 7 2015, the billionaire failed to declare a trust in Singapore with a bank account containing around 650 million US dollars, worth about £400 million at the time.

The charge stated Ecclestone, who has three grown-up daughters, Deborah, Tamara and Petra, and a young son, Ace, had "established only a single trust, that being one in favour of your daughters and other than the trust established for your daughters you were not the settlor nor beneficiary of any trust in or outside the UK".

Before his guilty plea, he had been due to face trial in November on the single fraud charge.

The charge alleged that Ecclestone 'dishonestly' made a representation to officers of HMRC 'which was, and which you knew was or might have been, untrue or misleading'.

The charge against him was authorised by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in July last year following an investigation by HMRC, which said the probe had been 'complex and worldwide'.

Chief crown prosecutor Andrew Penhale said at the time: "The CPS has reviewed a file of evidence from HMRC and has authorised a charge against Bernard Ecclestone of fraud by false representation in respect of his failure to declare to HMRC the existence of assets held overseas believed to be worth in excess of £400 million."

Former racing car driver Ecclestone oversaw Formula One from the late 1970s until 2017.He was also co-owner of Queens Park Rangers from 2007 to 2011 with Flavio Briatore.

The Sunday Times Rich List ranks Ecclestone, who has been married three times, as the 65th wealthiest person in the country, with an estimated net worth of £2.5billion.

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