Former Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone is to be charged with fraud by false representation over an alleged failure to declare £400 million ($477m) In overseas assets to the British government, prosecutors said on Monday.
The charge against the 91-year-old was authorised by the Crown Prosecution Service after an investigation by the UK's HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
“The [Crown Prosecution Service] 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,” said Andrew Penhale, the chief crown prosecutor.
Mr Ecclestone is the former chief executive of the Formula One Group, which manages Formula One motor racing and holds the commercial rights to the sport.
After four decades at the top of the sport, his financial worth has been estimated at £2.5 billion, Forbes magazine reported.
He is widely credited with transforming Formula One into a commercial powerhouse. Following a brief career as a racing driver in the late 1950s, he became the owner of the Brabham F1 team.
Mr Ecclestone's control over F1 developed from what was then the pioneering sale of television rights in the late 1970s.
He was removed from his position as chief executive of Formula One Group in January 2017 following its takeover by Liberty Media.
Simon York of HMRC said the investigation had been “complex and worldwide”.
“We can confirm that a fraud by false representation charge has been authorised against Bernard Ecclestone,” he said.
“This follows a complex and worldwide criminal investigation by HMRC's fraud investigation service.
“The criminal charge relates to projected tax liabilities arising from more than £400m of offshore assets which were concealed from HMRC.”
He added: “Our message is clear — no one is beyond our reach.”
The case will first be heard at Westminster Magistrates' Court on August 22.