No Jail Time for a £400 Million Tax Fraud!

In October 2023, Bernie Ecclestone, who evolved Formula One into a global brand, was found guilty of tax evasion amounting to £400 million. Originating from a 2015 case, the 92-year-old was sentenced to 17 months jail, suspended due to his age, and fined over £650 million. Critics argue this punishment is lenient, underlining the £400 million impact on UK tax revenue and upholding the Marxist perspective that justice is softer on the affluent.

Bernie Ecclestone was found guilty of tax evasion in October 2023. The total amount of tax he evaded paying was around £400 million (1)

The case dates back to 2015 when he had a meeting with UK tax officers from the HMRC. He failed to declare that he was paying into one particular trust in Singapore, money which he should have been paying tax on.

image of headline: Ecclestone tax fraud October 2023

He must have paid in HUGE sums to this trust and made huge profits to have run up a £400M tax bill (which he evaded). The profits would have been at least double that amount!

He plead guilty to this charge and was given a 17th month jail sentence and a fine, meaning he will have to pay just over £650 million to the UK tax authority, and £74 000 in costs to the prosecution.

His sentence was suspended so he won’t spend any time in jail, the judge saying this is because of his age. He is 92.

A massive crime with a weak punishment

This is a clear case of tax evasion (2). Ecclestone knowingly concealed information about his finances from the HMRC to not pay tax. This is illegal and carries a maximum penalty of seven years in jail and a 200% max fine.

Bernie received 17 months suspended and his penalty seems to be around 60%.

I understand suspending the sentence because he is 92, kind of fair enough. But as a symbolic message this hardly seems an appropriate penalty.

The harm Ecclestone caused to British society is £400 million lost tax revenue. That is 1/10th of the entire annual tax gap for tax evasion in the UK (3).

You might remember that a number of schools closed because of crumbling concrete earlier this year. The total estimated cost of repairing all of them is £150 million. That’s just one of the things Bernie’s tax could have prevented, had he paid it.

But no, he preferred to squirrel it away in a trust fund so he could pass it on to his undeserving children. And received no real punishment.

Who is Bernie Ecclestone?

He ran Formula one from the late 1970s until 2017, during which time he grew it into a global brand. Ecclestone essentially made F1 into one of the most valuable global media assets. It sits between the motor industry and a global audience.

According to the The Forbes Billionaires rich list his net worth is around $3 billion. (2). So yes the £600 million fine will hurt, but he’ll still have over $2 billion left.

Sociological analysis

This case study is an excellent example which supports the Marxist perspective on crime. According to Marxists the criminal justice system punishes the rich less than the poor. This is precisely what is happening here.

There’s no real debate about it, it’s just very strong supporting evidence for the continued relevance of Marxism today!

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(1) The Guardian (October 2023) Bernie Ecclestone given suspended sentence after pleading guilty to fraud.

(2) Wikipedia: Bernie Ecclestone

(3) Patrick Canon: UK Tax Evasion statistics 2020.

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