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Ecclestone's 'secret £10million tax deal'

FORMULA 1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone reportedly struck a secret deal with the UK taxman to avoid a potential £1.2 billion bill.

A BBC Panorama investigation uncovered legal papers that apparently reveal the sport's billionaire promoter instead paid just £10 million to settle the case.

The nine-year probe by Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs [HMRC] into the Ecclestone family's tax affairs centred around his ownership of lucrative TV rights to the sport, which he obtained in 1995.

He moved the prized asset offshore and gave the rights to then-wife Slavica, who then transferred them to a family trust in Liechtenstein and sold them for a huge profit, avoiding UK tax.

While legal if Mr Ecclestone did not set up or control the trust, he could have faced a tax bill of up to £1.2bn if he did. However, the HMRC reached a settlement of £10m in 2008.

In unpublished transcripts of interviews conducted by a German public prosecutor, a lawyer who helped run the trusts, Frederique Flournoy, said: "The Inland Revenue offered to conclude the matter if we paid £10m. We decided to pay up."

Mr Ecclestone, on trial in Germany facing corruption charges, said he paid £50m tax last year and was "proud to make my contribution by paying my taxes here".

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