Ex-Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone denies fraud charge

Wednesday, Jun 07, 2023

LONDON: Ex-Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has denied fraud over an allegation he failed to declare more than £400 million held in a trust in Singapore to the Government.The 92-year-old appeared at London’s Southwark Crown Court on Tuesday wearing a dark suit and dark glasses, and was supported by his wife, Fabiana Flosi.He stood in the well of the court near his lawyers to confirm his name before entering a not guilty plea to a single count of fraud between July 13 2013 and October 5 2016.The billionaire faces trial at the same court on November 16 in front of High Court judge Mr Justice Bryan following an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) into his finances.

He is alleged to have failed to declare a trust in Singapore with a bank account containing around 650 million US dollars as part of the probe, which would have allowed the business magnate to draw a line under any previous tax irregularities.The charge alleges that Ecclestone “dishonestly” and “thereby intending to make a gain” or “cause loss to another or expose another to a risk of loss made a representation to officers of HMRC which was, and which you knew was or might have been, untrue or misleading”.

The particulars state that Ecclestone, who has three grown-up daughters, Deborah, Tamara, and Petra, and a young son, Ace, said he “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 charge against him was authorised by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in July last year following an investigation by HMRC, which said the probe had been “complex and worldwide”.

Chief crown prosecutor Andrew Penhale said at the time: “The CPS has reviewed a file of evidence from HMRC and has authorised a charge against Bernard Ecclestone of fraud by false representation in respect of his failure to declare to HMRC the existence of assets held overseas believed to be worth in excess of £400 million.”