Bernie Ecclestone’s £650m fraud settlement ‘made him second biggest taxpayer in UK’ | Business News


A £650m fraud settlement agreed by former Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone made him the second-biggest taxpayer in the UK last year, according to The Sunday Times Tax List.

The 93-year-old billionaire businessman was spared jail last after admitting failing to declare more than £400m held in a trust in Singapore to the government.

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He agreed to settle £652.6m over tax he was meant to pay to HM Revenue & Customs during 18 years starting in 1994.

As a result, the tax list researchers said Mr Ecclestone was the second-highest individual taxpayer in the country.

The top slot was taken by Alex Gerko, a Russian-born financial trader and founder of XTX Markets, at £664.5m.

Third on the list were Denise, John and Peter Coates, the family behind online gambling giant Bet365. They paid £375.9m.

The gambling fortune of Fred and Peter Done and family put them in fourth place at £204.6m, closely followed by Wetherspoon founder Sir Tim Martin on £167.1m.

The youngest single taxpayer to make the top 100 list was singer Ed Sheeran, 32, who paid £39.6m to the exchequer.

The boxer Anthony Joshua was a new entry on the list this year, paying an estimated £12.2m.

The youngest single taxpayer on the list was singer Ed Sheeran

In total, the 100 individuals and families paid £5.3bn in tax – 3.3% more than a year ago.

But when the bumper contributions by Mr Gerko and Mr Ecclestone are stripped out, the total from the remaining 98 entries is down by £200m – the same amount the government pledged to the NHS to boost winter resilience.

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Tax List compiler Robert Watts said: “This has been the highest taxing government since the Second World War and although the total tax take is up – it is only by 3.3%.

“Bernie Ecclestone seems to have saved Jeremy Hunt’s blushes. The total tax found in this year’s research would have been a wedge lower were it not for the vast sum shelled out by the Formula One tycoon to settle a long-running investigation.”

The researchers said that Akshata Murty, the wife of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, was liable for tax of around £4.8m after she gave up her non-dom status following political pressure. It was not enough to get her included on the list.

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“If you look at the bottom 98 in this year’s list they paid £4.03bn, £200m less than last year,” Mr Watts said.

“That’s the amount the government pledged to the NHS to boost winter resilience. Two thirds of the wealthy individuals in 2023’s Tax List were found to have paid less tax this year.

“That was usually because their businesses have reported lower profits. But lower tax receipts from the UK’s richest people may raise more than the odd eyebrow at a time when the public finances remain stretched and there is talk of budget giveaways in the air.”