Formula One tycoon Bernie Ecclestone faces a £1billion tax bill after the latest twist in a long-running dispute over his family’s fortune. The row with HM Revenue and Customs was first settled in 2008 when he reportedly paid £10million of the £1billion tax bill in a ‘secret deal’.
But Mr Ecclestone, 84, who is worth an estimated £6billion, is being pursued for the money again in one of the biggest individual tax disputes in UK history.
On Thursday, his lawyers challenged HMRC in the High Court in London, while he remained in Monte Carlo for the Monaco Grand Prix.
When three-times married Mr Ecclestone sold lucrative Formula One television rights, the money was placed in a family trust fund – the Bambino Trust – set up in 1997 in the tax haven of Liechtenstein.
His former wife Slavica, who is 28 years his junior, and their daughters Tamara and Petra are the intended beneficiaries. He has repeatedly claimed he has no influence over the fund and does not benefit from it.
But documents that emerged during a bribery hearing in Germany last year suggested Mr Ecclestone had received £300million from the fund since his divorce from Slavica in 2009.
This case appears to have prompted HMRC to look again at the trust and in December it wrote to Mr Ecclestone claiming he had withheld information that made the 2008 agreement invalid.
His legal team has disputed the £1billion tax claim in court and asked for a judge-led review into the case.
Judge Kenneth Parker put a judicial review on hold while other legal challenges lodged by Mr Ecclestone are heard.
A spokesman for the businessman said he would be ‘pursuing other legal avenues to ensure that HMRC is held to its original agreement of 2008’.