Bernie Ecclestone avoided £1.2bn tax bill, BBC Panorama to claim

Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone may have to shell out more than £1bn for dodging tax, BBC 1’s Panaroma will claim tonight.

In 1995, Ecclestone secured ownership of the TV rights of Formula 1. He then transferred the rights to his then wife Slavica. She then moved them to a family trust in Liechtenstein and later sold it for a huge profit. No UK tax was paid on the sale.

There is nothing illegal about the chain of events. However, if Ecclestone set up or controlled the family trust, he could face a tax bill of more than $2bn.

Revenue & Customs spent nine years investigating Ecclestone’s tax affairs. In 2008, HMRC offered to settle for a £10m payment from the family trusts in 2008.

Emily Thornberry MP, the Shadow Attorney General, has called for a new investigation by HMRC into Ecclestone’s affairs.

She said: “Ten million may sound like a lot, but you have to look at it in the round and if we’re talking about a trust fund in which they are making huge amounts of money like this, then it isn’t very much.”

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