Bernie Ecclestone admits to committing fraud
The former Formula One executive, Bernie Ecclestone, admitted guilt to fraud and was sentenced to a suspended term.
Tax authorities in 2015 queried the 92-year-old about more than £400 million held in a Singaporean trust, but he failed to disclose it.
A court heard that Ecclestone consented to pay back around £653 million to HM Revenues and Customs as part of a legal settlement.
He received a sentence of 17 months in prison with a two-year suspension.
The billionaire had initially pleaded not guilty and was scheduled to go on trial the following month.
The encounter between Ecclestone and HMRC officers in July 2015 was reported to the court.
It was heard that Ecclestone "was fed up of paying huge bills for advice" and was "seeking to a draw a line under investigations into his tax affairs".
He stated at the time that he had only one trust, which was set up for his daughters.
He had declared to HMRC that he was "neither the settlor nor the beneficiary of any trust in or outside the UK," according to the accusation.
However, after what HMRC has previously called a "complex and worldwide" examination, that response turned out to be untrue.
Ecclestone and his spouse Fabiana arrived at Southwark Crown Court on Thursday. Ecclestone's sole words to the judge were "I plead guilty" and other basic details.
When he stood up to address the judge in court, he looked weak.
The former Formula One boss's legal team contended that because of his late age, health problems, and lack of public risk, he shouldn't be sentenced to prison.
Christine Montgomery, the defendant's attorney, stated that Ecclestone "bitterly regrets the events that led to this criminal trial".
Prosecutor Richard Wright stated in court that Ecclestone had intentionally provided HMRC with a "untrue or misleading" response when he said he had no more trusts outside of the UK, following Ecclestone's guilty plea.
He went on: "Mr. Ecclestone was unable to respond to the inquiry as of July 7, 2015, because he was unaware of the position's actual status.
"Mr. Ecclestone was unclear about the ownership structure of the aforementioned accounts.
As a result, he was unaware of any potential tax, interest, or penalty implications for the money moving through the accounts.
"Mr. Ecclestone acknowledges that providing the answers he did to the questions he answered raised the possibility that HMRC would discontinue their investigation into his personal affairs.
"He now accepts that some tax is due in relation to these matters."