THE TAXMAN is set to investigate the sale of F1 motor racing by its former owner Bernie Ecclestone following the start of a court case in Germany.
Ecclestone will appear before a Munich court as a witness in a bribery case involving German investment banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, to whom Ecclestone sold the business in 2006, the Sunday Telegraph reports. Gribkowsky is on trial following allegations he took a bribe from Ecclestone relating to the sale.
Ecclestone claims the £27.5m payment was paid to Gribkowsky in a “shakedown” – protection money – to stop him reporting false allegations of tax evasion to HM Revenue & Customs.
The money was paid from Ecclestone’s own account and the rest by his offshore family trust, Ecclestone claims. The report suggests HMRC will investigate how close Ecclestone is to the trust, Bambino, as he will be liable to pay UK tax on its income.
Sven Thomas, Ecclestone’s lawyer, told The Telegraph: “You could say Bernie has been the victim here. There was a hidden threat, pressure – a sort of shakedown. Bambino wanted to ensure Bernie would continue as CEO because they believed if he didn’t, the value of their assets would come down. That is why, separately, they also paid Mr Gribkowsky.”
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