Former F-1 boss Bernie Ecclestone pleads guilty to tax fraud

Ecclestone will be sentenced at a later date

bernie_ecclestone Bernie Ecclestone | Reuters

Former Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone admitted to tax fraud at a court hearing on Thursday. The 92-year-old billionaire failed to declare £400m ($491 mn) held in a trust in Singapore. 

He did not declare the trust when asked by tax authorities if he had wealth overseas. Ecclestone initially pleaded not guilty and was originally supposed to stand trial next month. He has agreed in a civil settlement to repay £653m ($801 mn) to HM Revenues and Customs (HMRC), a BBC report reads. The amount covers taxes for 18 years between 1994 and 2022.

Ecclestone will be sentenced at a later date. Ecclestone, who arrived with his wife Fabiana and spoke only to tell the judge "I plead guilty". Prosecutors said Ecclestone misled HMRC officials at a July 2015 meeting when he said, he "established only a single trust" in favour of his daughters Deborah, Tamara and Petra. 

"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,” Prosecutor Richard Wright KC told Sky Sports.

The defending prosecutor said that Ecclestone "bitterly regrets" the events and his initial answers to questions by HMRC were an "impulsive lapse of judgement".

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