Ex-Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone spared jail after admitting fraud

By Sports Desk October 12, 2023

Ex-Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has been spared jail after admitting fraudulently failing to declare more than £400million held in a trust in Singapore to the Government.

The court heard the 92-year-old has agreed a civil settlement of £652,634,836 in respect of sums due to HMRC over the course of 18 years.

At Southwark Crown Court on Thursday, Ecclestone was handed a 17-month jail term, suspended for two years.

His defence barrister, Christine Montgomery KC, told sentencing judge Mr Justice Bryan that the defendant “bitterly regrets the events that led to this criminal trial”.

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.

The former racing driver said “I plead guilty” while standing in the well of the court on Thursday wearing a dark suit and grey tie.

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

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

Prosecutor Richard Wright KC told the court that a meeting was held between Ecclestone and HMRC officers in July 2015.

He said that Ecclestone was “seeking to a draw a line under investigations into his tax affairs.”

Mr Wright added: “He was fed up of paying huge bills for advice.”

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