Former Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone will face charges of fraud by false representation after an investigation by UK tax authorities that allegedly found undeclared assets worth more than £400m overseas.
The UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said on Monday it had “authorised the charging of Bernard Charles Ecclestone with fraud by false representation, following a [HM Revenue and Customs] investigation”. The investigation was dubbed Operation Gallic by the authorities.
Ecclestone, 91, ran Formula One, the world’s most lucrative motorsports tournament, almost single-handedly for 40 years until it was taken over by Liberty Media in 2017. During his time overseeing the sport Ecclestone’s built up a vast fortune, estimated at £2.5bn in May by the Sunday Times.
The first hearing in the tax case is scheduled to take place on 22 August at Westminster magistrates court.
Andrew Penhale, the chief crown prosecutor, said: “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 £400m.
“The Crown Prosecution Service reminds all concerned that criminal proceedings against this defendant are now active and that they have a right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.”
Ecclestone is married to Brazilian-born Fabiana Ecclestone, who is a vice-president of the International Automobile Federation (FIA), a motor-sport governing body, and a member of the World Motor Sport Council.
Simon York, the director of HMRC’s fraud investigation service, said the tax authority had carried out a “complex and worldwide criminal investigation”.
“HMRC is on the side of honest taxpayers and we will take tough action wherever we suspect tax fraud,” York said. “Our message is clear – no one is beyond our reach.”