Bernie Ecclestone has reportedly been able to avoid a tax bill of over ?1bn despite his affairs being investigated by UK officials.

The F1 ringmaster, who is currently facing bribery charges in Germany relating to the sale of F1's commercial rights to investment group CVC, was subjected to nine years of probing by HMRC, but ended up paying just ?10m instead of a potential ?1.2bn.

According to the BBC's Panorama programme, the figure dates back to the point where Ecclestone acquired the television rights to F1 but, because he moved the rights on to his then wife, who transferred them to an offshore family trust, he was no longer liable to pay tax when the asset was sold on at a vast profit.

The arrangement is legally watertight provided Ecclestone had no part in setting up or controlling the trust, and means that the 83-year old cannot receive payments directly from the trust. He does, however, receive money from ex-wife Slavica as part of their divorce settlement - a figure estimated to be in the region of $100m a year.

Panorama's report was based on previously unpublished transcripts of interviews conducted with one of the trust's lawyers by a German public prosecutor. Frederique Flournoy confirmed that, having been offered the opportunity to end the investigation for a payment of ?10m - a sum the various family trusts were believed to accrue every six weeks or so - Ecclestone 'decided to pay up'.

Ecclestone claims to have paid 'more than ?50m' in taxes in 2013, and insists that he is 'proud to be British and proud to make my contribution by paying my taxes here'.



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