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Bernie Ecclestone: former F1 boss pleads guilty to fraud after failing to declare £400m of overseas assets

Former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has pleaded guilty to fraud after he hid around £400m of overseas assets from the British government. (Credit: Lucy North/PA Wire)
Former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has pleaded guilty to fraud after he hid around £400m of overseas assets from the British government. (Credit: Lucy North/PA Wire)

Business magnate Bernie Ecclestone has pleaded guilty to fraud after he failed to declare more than £400million in overseas assets to the British Government.

The former chief executive of the Formula One Group, which controls the commercial wing of the Motorsport, appeared at Southwark crown Court where he was charged with fraud by false representation. Ecclestone, 92, said "I plead guilty" to the court, wearing a dark suit and grey tie.

Ecclestone is one of the richest men in the UK, with a reported net worth of £2.5bn and a ranking of 65th in the Sunday Times Rich List. In July 2015, he failed to declare a trust in Singapore, which had a bank account containing $650m, to the British Government. This would have been worth around £400m at the time.

The charge he was hit with stated that the mogul 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”. The trial was originally due to take place in November, however this has now been scrapped due to his guilty plea.

The court heard that Ecclestone had said "no" to HMRC when he was asked if he had links to any other 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.

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.”