Former Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has been given a suspended prison sentence after pleading guilty to a fraud charge. Ecclestone, 92, admitted to failing to declare millions of dollars held in a trust in Singapore to the British government. He agreed to a civil settlement of 652.6 million pounds ($803 million) over funds owed to Britain’s tax office spanning 18 years. At Southwark Crown Court in London, Ecclestone received a 17-month term, suspended for two years.
Prosecutors alleged that Ecclestone claimed to have set up only one trust for his daughters and denied being involved in any other trusts abroad. However, he was found to have acted dishonestly and intended to make a gain from the claims. Ecclestone’s defense lawyer expressed his regret for the events that led to the criminal trial.
The judge acknowledged the seriousness of Ecclestone’s offense but took into consideration his health and age when determining the sentence. Ecclestone had previously pleaded not guilty to the charges. He served as the head of Formula One racing and controlled the sport for four decades until 2017 when he stepped down as chief executive.
In recent years, Ecclestone has made headlines for his public comments praising Russian President Vladimir Putin and defending him over the invasion of Ukraine. Formula One distanced itself from his remarks, stating they did not represent the views of the organization. Ecclestone later apologized for his statements.