Ecclestone goes back to court over £1bn tax bill
The head of F1 will fight the Inland Revenue’s claim that he owes £674m in tax and £349m in interest, going back 13 years
Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has insisted that he is not concerned about the Inland Revenue’s judgement that he owes just over £1billion in unpaid taxes.
The ruling is related to the Bambino Trust, set up in Liechtenstein and held in the name of Ecclestone’s ex-wife, Slavica. Ecclestone handed over his shares in the Formula 1 business to the trust in 1997.
The UK authorities spent nine years investigating Ecclestone’s tax affairs and came to an agreement with him in 2008. However, the Inland Revenue has now torn up that agreement, arguing in court in May that it had been “misled and relied on representations that were false”. Its new bill is based on 13 years of income for the trust, totalling £674m in tax and £349m in interest, with the possibility of penalty charges on top.
Ecclestone’s lawyers are arguing that the Inland Revenue should stick with the previous agreement and have applied for a judicial review. A High Court judge ruled in May that this review should be put on hold until a commercial court had heard another challenge by Ecclestone to the decision.
Ecclestone said: “The lawyers are dealing with it. That’s why it’s in court. It’s very technical.” Asked if he was worried about the situation, he replied: “No.”
The latest twist comes after two court cases involving Ecclestone last year over a payment to a German banker over the sale of shares in F1 to current main shareholder CVC Capital Partners in 2006. Ecclestone paid £60m to end a case in Munich in which he was accused of paying a bribe, without assumption of guilt or innocence.
A case heard in London’s High Court, in which a rival company had sought damages over the sale was dismissed, but only after the judge had said: “Even… making allowances for the lapse of time and Mr Ecclestone’s age, I am afraid that I nd it impossible to regard him as a reliable or truthful witness.”
Ecclestone on his latest court battle: “The lawyers are dealing with it. That’s why it’s in court. It’s very technical”