Bernie Ecclestone to become a father again to first son at the age of 89

Ex-F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone to be charged with fraud after discovery of £400m in undeclared assets

'No one is beyond our reach,' says HMRC

Former Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone is to face charges of fraud by false representation after the discovery of more than £400m worth of undeclared assets overseas.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said on Monday (July 11) that it had “reviewed a file of evidence from HMRC [Revenue & Customs]” and had “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 £400m.”

Simon York, a representative from HMRC, confirmed that the organisation had undertaken a “complex and worldwide” investigation (dubbed Operation Gallic) related to Ecclestone.

“The criminal charge relates to projected tax liabilities arising from more than £400m of offshore assets which were concealed from HMRC,” said York.

“HMRC is on the side of honest taxpayers, and we will take tough action wherever we suspect tax fraud. Our message is clear — no one is beyond our reach.”

Ecclestone, 91, ran F1 for more than 40 years until it was taken over by Liberty Media in 2017. During his tenure, Ecclestone turned the sport into a global sensation and amassed a fortune, estimated by The Sunday Times in May to be somewhere in the region of £2.5bn.

Ecclestone’s involvement with F1 stretches back to the 1950s, and he was owner of the Brabham F1 team between 1972 and 1987, during which time the outfit scored solid placings, finishing second in the world championship in 1975 and 1981.

Brabham drivers during Ecclestone’s ownership including Niki Lauda and Nelson Piquet – the latter of whom Ecclestone recently defended in an interview following accusations of racism.

Piquet’s comments, recorded on a podcast, were directed towards Lewis Hamilton following the British Grand Prix in 2021, where a crash between Hamilton and Piquet’s daughter’s boyfriend, Max Verstappen, knocked the Dutchman out of the race. Verstappen hit a tyre barrier at 51-times the force of gravity and was taken to hospital for checks.

2021 British GP Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton crash

Ecclestone’s defence of Piquet, however, paled in comparison to the controversy generated during an interview on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, when he told the presenters that he would “take a bullet” for his friend, the Russian premier Vladimir Putin, describing him as a “first class person”.

He said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — which has, since February, killed more than 5,000 civilians — could have been avoided if the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy had stepped up his diplomatic efforts to resolve the long-standing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Ecclestone’s interview prompted widespread condemnation including from the UK government’s foreign secretary, Liz Truss, who called the comments “extraordinary” and described his defence of Putin as “shocking”.

F1 too sought to distance itself from Ecclestone, saying that his views on Putin and the invasion of Ukraine were “in very stark contrast to the position of the modern values of the sport.”

Commenting on Ecclestone’s most recent travails, the Crown Prosecution Service said that it wished to remind all concerned that “criminal proceedings against this defendant are now active and that they have a right to a fair trial.

“It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.”

The first hearing in the tax case against Ecclestone is scheduled to be held at Westminster magistrates court on August 22.

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