Bernie Ecclestone denies fraud over Singapore assets

Formula 1
Bernie Ecclestone was met by photographers and camera crews as he entered court on MondayPA Media

Bernie Ecclestone has denied fraud over an alleged failure to declare about $650m in overseas assets.

The 91-year-old former Formula One boss indicated a not guilty plea to a charge of fraud by false representation at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

He is accused of failing to declare a trust in Singapore with a bank account containing funds that at the time would have been worth more than £400m.

Photographers outside court were warned not to mob him because of his age.

After arriving at court for his first hearing in a white Range Rover, the business magnate was escorted through the exit of the court building by his legal team and court security.

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

Mr Ecclestone stood to confirm his name and address in Knightsbridge, central London, before indicating a not guilty plea.

The charge brought against him in July followed an investigation by HMRC, which said the probe had been “complex and worldwide”, relating to a period between 13 July 2013 and 5 October 2016.

Prosecutor Robert Simpson told the court: “During the course of that investigation he was asked about any trusts placed abroad that he was involved with.

“The Crown has based this charge on the basis he failed to declare a trust in Singapore with a bank account containing approximately $650m.”

Ecclestone is alleged to have disclosed “only a single trust” to tax authorities, one in favour of his daughters, according to the charge read in court.

The court heard he said he was “not the settler or the beneficiary of any other trust” and the prosecution alleged the businessman acted “with the intention of making a gain for yourself”.

Mr Ecclestone was granted unconditional bail ahead of his next appearance at Southwark Crown Court on 19 September during the hearing, which lasted about five minutes.

He ran Formula One from the late 1970s until January 2017 when he was removed as its chief executive.

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