The maximum leader of Formula 1 until 2017, Bernie Ecclestone was sentenced this Thursday to 17 months in suspended prison for tax frauda penalty that will prevent him from going to prison except for a new sentence in the next two years.
“I plead guilty”said the British billionaire before Southwark Crown Court in London, where he appeared dressed in a dark suit and a gray tie.
Ecclestone admitted to failing to declare £400 million ($490 million) in assets in Singapore between 2013 and 2016. The ruling also requires him to pay a fine of £652 million ($800 million) to put an end to his dispute with the treasury.
He initially pleaded not guilty to these crimes in August 2022, but finally acknowledged the facts this Thursday at a hearing held in a London court. In this way, Ecclestone avoided the trial that was to begin on November 16, but not the conviction.
Ecclestone’s lawyer Christine Montgomery declared this Thursday in court that her client “deeply regrets the events that have motivated this criminal proceeding.”. But it is not the first time that the former leader was before a court. In 2014 he already managed to stop a trial in Germany for corruption, after paying 100 million dollars.
“Wrong” answers before the prosecutor
According to the prosecutor, The answers given by the former president of the Great Circus seven years ago were “wrong” and could “lead to error”at the same time clarifying that the accused was not aware of his position and could not give a clear answer.
“Mr Ecclestone did not know exactly how the ownership of these accounts was structured. Therefore, he did not know whether he had to pay taxes, interest or penalties in connection with transfers between accounts. Mr Ecclestone acknowledges that it was a mistake to answer the questions because it could cause HMRC (the British Treasury) to stop investigating his affairs. “He now accepts that taxes would have to be paid for it,” said the prosecutor.
Short-lived racing driver in the late 1950s and later boss of the Brabham team, the British businessman, whose fortune was estimated by Forbes magazine at more than 2.5 billion pounds ($2.952 million), is considered the architect of the transformation of F1, turning it into a lucrative activity. Specifically, at the end of the 70s he was one of the pioneers in the commercialization of television broadcasting rights for sporting events.
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