Bernie Ecclestone denies fraud in London court appearance

Editor
Bernie Ecclestone leaving court. London August 2022.

Bernie Ecclestone has denied fraud over an alleged failure to declare £400million of overseas assets to the UK Government.

The 91-year-old former F1 supremo is accused of failing to declare a trust in Singapore with a bank account containing around 650 million US dollars.

He was met at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday morning by photographers and camera operators who had been warned by court security not to mob him because of his age.

His white Range Rover, with a personalised number plate, passed three times before the former Brabham team owner left the vehicle dressed in a dark three-piece suit, white shirt and dark tie.

Ecclestone was walked in through the building’s exit by court security along with his legal team.

Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring allowed him to stand outside the dock after his barrister Clare Montgomery QC said her client was “having a little bit of trouble hearing”.

Ecclestone stood in the dock to confirm his name, date of birth and address in Knightsbridge, central London, before indicating a not guilty plea to a charge of fraud by false representation between July 13 2013 and October 5 2016.

Ecclestone was granted unconditional bail ahead of his next appearance at Southwark Crown Court on September 19.

According to the charge, the co-founder of the Formula One Constructors’ Association allegedly claimed he had “established only a single trust, that being one in favour of your daughters”.

He is also alleged to have said “other than the trust established for your daughters, you were not the settlor nor beneficiary of any trust in or outside the UK”.

Ecclestone, who has three grown-up daughters – Deborah, 67, Tamara, 38, and Petra, 33 – and a young son, Ace, allegedly made the representations “intending to make a gain, namely not stated, for yourself”.

The charge against the billionaire was authorised by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) last month after an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (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 £400million”.

Ecclestone was chief executive of the Formula One Group until January 2017, then becoming chairman emeritus through to 2020 since then he has generally adopted a lower public profile.