Ecclestone avoids potential £1.2bn in tax payments

FORMULA ONE chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has avoided around £1.2bn in tax over a period stretching back to 1995, the BBC reports.

Following a nine-year HM Revenue & Customs investigation, he reached a settlement of £10m from offshore family trusts in 2008.

The former Queens Park Rangers FC owner is currently on trial in Germany facing corruption charges. It is alleged he was behind a £26m bribe paid to a bank official.

Prosecutors allege the bribe was paid to ensure that Ecclestone retained control of Formula One.

Ecclestone admits paying Germain banker Gerhard Gribowsky, but claims he was effectively blackmailed as he feared Gribowsky would inform the tax authorities about his trusts.

He gained the lucrative television rights to Formula One in 1995, before transferring them to his then-wife Slavica offshore. She then moved them to a Liechtenstein-based family trust before selling them unfettered by UK tax. It is estimated the public purse missed out on £1.2bn as a result.

Ecclestone told the BBC he paid more than £50m in tax last year and “has always paid his fair share of tax”.

Slavica Ecclestone’s lawyer said her estate planning was based on legal advice and that she was entitled to privacy in her tax affairs. A lawyer for the family trusts said Bernie Ecclestone has not exerted any control over the management of the trusts.

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