Ex-F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone agrees to pay £652m after admitting fraud

The 92-year-old said 'I plead guilty' at Southwark Crown Court on Thursday.

ITV News reporter Chloe Keedy takes us through the complex fraud case of Bernie Ecclestone

Ex-Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has plead guilty and agreed to pay a civil settlement of £652,634,836 after admitting to fraud.

The 92-year-old said “I plead guilty” at Southwark Crown Court on Thursday when accused of failing to declare more than £400m held in a trust in Singapore to the government.

He has been sentenced to 17 months in prison suspended for two years.

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 £400m at the time.

The court heard the former racing driver has agreed to pay a civil settlement of £652,634,836 in respect of sums due to HMRC.

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.

Ecclestone was the former chief executive of the Formula One Group, which manages Formula One motor racing. / Credit: AP

The court heard Ecclestone had said “no” when asked by HMRC officers whether he had any links to further trusts “in or outside the UK”.

Prosecutor Richard Wright KC said: “That answer was untrue or misleading.

“Mr Ecclestone knew his answer may have been untrue or misleading.

“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.”

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