Trial date set for former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone over £400m fraud charge

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Ex-Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone faces trial in October next year accused of failing to declare more than £400million in a trust in Singapore to the Government.

The 91-year-old appeared at Southwark Crown Court on Tuesday charged with a single count of fraud by false representation between July 13 2013 and October 5 2016.

The billionaire, who will turn 92 later this month, was charged following an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) into his finances.

He is alleged to have failed to declare a trust in Singapore with a bank account containing around 650m US dollars as part of the probe, which would have allowed the business magnate to draw a line under any previous tax irregularities.

Bernie Ecclestone
Bernie Ecclestone arrived in a white car with a personalised number plate (Victoria Jones/PA)

His wife, Fabiana Flosi, was in the same car but entered the building separately as Ecclestone faced the waiting media photographers and camera operators.

Wearing glasses, a dark grey three-piece suit, white shirt and grey tie with blue stripes, he was allowed to sit in court behind his lawyers rather than in the dock because of his hearing difficulties, while his wife watched from the public gallery.

Ecclestone stood to confirm his name before prosecutor Alexander Langhorn and Clare Montgomery KC, defending, asked for time to discuss directions.

When the hearing resumed, the defendant was not asked to formally enter a plea and Judge Deborah Taylor fixed a trial date for October 9 next year.

Bernie Ecclestone has been involved in Formula One  for much of his life
Bernie Ecclestone is the former chief executive of Formula One (David Davies/PA)

Ecclestone previously indicated he would enter a not guilty plea at a hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in August.

The charge alleges that Ecclestone, who has three grown-up daughters – Deborah, 67, Tamara, 38, and Petra, 33 – and a young son, Ace, allegedly made a representation to officers of HMRC, “which was, and which he knew was or might have been, untrue or misleading”.

The particulars state that Ecclestone claimed “he had established only a single trust, that being one in favour of his daughters” and “other than the trust established for his daughters he was not the settlor nor beneficiary of any trust in or outside the UK”.

The charge against him was authorised by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in July following an investigation by 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 £400 million.”

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