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Ecclestone pleads guilty to tax fraud

NEWS STORY
15/10/2023

Former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has pleaded guilty to committing tax fraud.

Appearing at London's Southwark Crown Court this morning, and accompanied by his wife Fabiana, Ecclestone spoke merely confirm his name and address and to enter his plea.

"I plead guilty," he told the court in relation to the charge, which he had previously denied, that he failed to declare a trust fund of 400m ($491m) in Singapore.

Ecclestone had previously told HM Revenues and Customs that he was "not the settlor nor beneficiary of any trust in or outside the UK", insisting that there was only one "single trust" fund, which had been established on behalf of his daughter.

However, prosecutor Richard Wright KC said Ecclestone had given an "untrue or misleading" answer to HMRC when asked about further trusts outside the UK.

"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," said Wright.

"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."

The 92-year-old has agreed to pay 650m ($800m).

According to HMRC, its investigation was "complex and worldwide", though, of course, the big question is who grassed him up.

The Briton was also sentenced to 17 months in prison, suspended for two years. However, claims that he said: "I'll do it on me 'ead", to which the judge added a further 17 months, saying, "well, this will get you back on your feet again", are thought to be scurrilous lies.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Defiant, 19/10/2023 15:09

"@spindoctor, you're correct, however, it doesn't mean I have to like it. Rishi will be ditched not soon enough but if the rest of the Brits vote for Starmer they'll deserve EVERYTHING that they have coming. I'd love to say that it's just the UK, but I left it 18years ago and Mooseland ain't any better. We have Justine Castro making an even bigger mess than the last 8 PM's of the UK did."

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2. Posted by Spindoctor, 17/10/2023 6:50

"@defiant in our representative democracies we have to put up with how our elected governments choose to spend our cash. In the UK many billions have seemingly vanished without trace after Covid contracts were literally awarded to blokes down the pub. I don't approve, but have to accept the priorities of the elected government.
It's widely believed there'll be a change of government soon & I doubt they'll do very much I approve of either....."

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3. Posted by Defiant, 17/10/2023 2:54

"@spindoctor. I'm not opposed to taxes, I'm opposed to the way they are implemented. They tax us on the money we earn, then what we spend it on, they tax the homes that we live in, the roads that we drive upon then after we die, they tax it again, then they tax it again for the people it's left to. Then let's talk about fuel. they tax the fuel being extracted from the ground, then being refined, then the fuel at the pumps is taxed, but not only taxed once, its then taxed with sales tax on the full amount..meaning they are actually taxing the tax.
Then they send it all to other countries that conveniently hire the people sending it to them to do a talk.... It's called money laundering, you know, that thing that they will send their uniformed goons after you for.
That is what I'm opposed to, not a tax in principle."

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4. Posted by Ricardo_sanchez, 16/10/2023 12:29

"@kenji - I think you might be taking things a little too seriously. Everyone knows F1 is a circus. And Bernie was always part ring-leader, part clown. "

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5. Posted by kenji, 16/10/2023 0:11

"Most interesting to see how the general public [ and some F1 fans ] react...anything to dump on BE seems to be the order of the day. ATM I'm devoid of all the intricate details so I will simply categorise this event as either 'win some, lose some' or 'not avoidance just minimisation gone wrong'. C'est la vie."

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6. Posted by Ricardo_sanchez, 15/10/2023 22:13

"In other news, Netflix has denied rumours of a new F1 series being produced. Speculation was growing after researchers were hired for the new project, under working title “Bribe to Survive”.
"

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7. Posted by Spindoctor, 15/10/2023 14:54

"@editor - look forward to the revelations. Some rumours have it that Bernie will actually end up better-off by paying this (not to mention out of jail!) - don't know how, but maybe we'll find out in due course....

@Defiant - Death & taxes: you have to be incredibly rich to avoid the latter & (so far) you can't avoid the former, no matter how rich. It's all very well decrying taxation, but without a State & government, the super-rich wouldn't have a safe world in which to operate. No taxes = no Police, no legal system, no army etc.

@ Ricardo_sanchez just so. I rather doubt Bernie actually filled-in any forms himself, so if they were wrong either he over-ruled his advisors, or they failed.... Having worked for some people probably wealthier than Bernie I can confirm that a couiple of million buys you gold-plated tax avoidance...."

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8. Posted by Anthony, 14/10/2023 15:21

"I can’t wait to find out more about Chris Sylt’s projects!

One interesting point is that some of the reports say that HMRC’s barrister stated that Bernie replied “no” to the critical question about the overseas trust when he did not actually know the correct answer and should have stated that this was the case. This may not be as odd as it appears as I am sure that the tax regime for trusts is not at all straightforward. One question that comes to mind is if a company that someone controls is the settlor of a trust does that mean that the individual is also deemed to be a settlor? If yes or maybe, it could result easily result in someone giving a literal answer of “no” to a question about being a settlor when the question is in fact more complex than it appears.

Just a thought to add to others here!"

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9. Posted by Ricardo_sanchez, 14/10/2023 13:26

"@editor - that will make for very interesting reading. I understand that HMRC was only able to snare Ecclestone because of the existence of the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).

It makes you wonder how much tax Ecclestone has avoided paying throughout his lifetime, considering how readily he agreed to handover more than 650m. Then again, it is a small price for him to pay (in relation to his wealth) to keep out of jail. "

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10. Posted by Editor, 14/10/2023 12:29

"According to Chris Sylt, who is currently working on a couple of bombshell projects, all is not what it seems.

"What happened is totally different to what has been reported! Far far more interesting as HMRC used Bernie's own tactics against him to force him to pay the 650m! The 650m was not a fine for lying to HMRC, it was for something completely different!"

Chris will reveal all in time. "

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11. Posted by Ricardo_sanchez, 14/10/2023 0:26

"@Defiant - I find it very hard to find any sympathy for a man with a net worth of c.2.5bn, who - according to most commentators in this forum - retains his “sharp mind” but forgets to declare millions of his assets. Evidently his mind was not sharp enough for him to retain the best tax advisers despite clearly having the means to do so. Or he was just so arrogant that he thought he’d get away with it.

The real tax scandal in the UK is that HMRC allows so many billionaires to get away with tax avoidance schemes, but is so quick to penalise those at the opposite end of the income scale. For example, recent research has shown that between 2018 and 2022, around 420,000 people earning less than 13,000 received a penalty for not filing a tax return on time. That’s over 40% of all taxpayers who were penalised. Unlike Ecclestone, few of those fined actually had any tax to pay because their earnings were below the threshold.

"

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12. Posted by Defiant, 13/10/2023 23:22

"Well I must be the odd one out. I'm truly thinking without any sarcasm at all that it sucks that he got caught cause the government rapes and pillages us all farrrrrr too much and anyone that gets away without paying them tax gets a thumbs up from me. If I had the means (I don't) and ability to pay someone to outsmart them, I know I would without a doubt. All across the western world we are taxed far too highly and not only too highly, they constantly double dip. Its abhorrent. So I do actually feel bad for the ole fella."

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13. Posted by Apexing, 12/10/2023 16:56

"I totally understand his position. I can't tell you how many times I've forgotten about which country I've left one of my $491M trust funds.

Philosophically, punishable by a fine (even one as large as that) means legal for a price..."

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14. Posted by Spindoctor, 12/10/2023 14:08

"Poor old git. Must be awful to lose 450m down the back of the sofa while watching Big Brother,. then forget where you left it."

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15. Posted by Editor, 12/10/2023 11:55

"@ trackrecords

Now, now James"

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