'Bernie paid to avoid £1.2bn tax bill'

Monday 28-April-2014 08:11

In a month when Bernie Ecclestone is in the spotlight for unwanted reasons, the BBC now reports he escaped a £1.2bn tax bill in a "secret deal with HMRC."

Last week, Ecclestone was in Germany for the start of the bribery trial that, if found guilty, could not only cost him his job but also his freedom.

Various details of his life were revealed in the 256-page indictment, including that his ex-wife Slavica pays him £60 million a year as part of their 2009 divorce.

Now a BBC Panarama investigation has uncovered Ecclestone's "secret deal" with HMRC to avoid a whopping tax bill.

"Revenue and Customs spent nine years investigating the Ecclestone family's tax affairs before offering to settle in return for the payment from the family trusts in 2008," revealed the BBC.

The investigation, which examined "previously unpublished transcripts of interviews conducted by a German public prosecutor", found that a lawyer for the Ecclestone family trusts, Frederique Flournoy, had admitted this to the prosecutor.

He said: "In summer 2008, the Inland Revenue offered to conclude the matter if we paid £10m. We decided to pay up."

The trust, though, reported earns "around £10m in interest every six weeks."

As for Slavica's yearly payments to Ecclestone, Ms Flournoy told the prosecutor: "Mrs Ecclestone received disbursements from the Trusts. In other words, she also has a personal asset.

"That is also the basis on which the divorce ruling fixed the payment amounts to Ecclestone."

However, Ecclestone's deal with the tax man could be overturned.

The Daily Mail is reporting that "Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry called for a new investigation into Mr Ecclestone and his family trusts by HMRC, saying that £10million was insignificant compared to potential tax bills."

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