Bernie Ecclestone, 93, attended a charity skiing competition with his 47-year-old wife Fabiana Flosi in Austria on Saturday.
The pair were spotted at the Kitz Charity Trophy skiing competition – which raises money to help mountain farming families in need – in Kitzbuehel.
Fabiana was seen donning a black ski-suit with a fluffy hood and taking to the slopes, as well as a Sixt branded vest, white helmet and ski googles. Meanwhile, Ecclestone watched on from the sidelines in a navy coat with a pair of grey and pink sunglasses.
Ecclestone was also seen greeting Austrian former Formula One racing driver Gerhard Berger as they attended the Men’s Downhill event at FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup – of which the charity ski is a feature.
Their appearance comes after the Formula One tycoon agreed to pay more than a quarter of his wealth to the taxman but avoided jail after admitting hiding £416million from HMRC.
Bernie Ecclestone, 93, attended a charity skiing competition with his 47-year-old wife Fabiana Flosi in Austria on Saturda
Fabiana was seen donning a black ski-suit with a fluffy hood and taking to the slopes, as well as a Sixt branded vest, white helmet and ski googles
Despite being the biggest personal fraud in British history, the former racing driver previously tried to dodge facing trial by claiming the process would kill him.
He had also tried to have proceedings thrown out by claiming remarks he had made about ‘taking a bullet’ for Russian president Vladimir Putin were the real reason for the prosecution, rather than ‘legitimate public interest.’
Ecclestone agreed to pay almost £653million to HMRC, more than a quarter of the estimated £2.5billion wealth he has amassed since seizing control of F1 in the 1970s.
Judge Mr Justice Simon Bryan told him his offending had crossed the custody threshold, but suspended a 17-month jail term for two years at Southwark Crown Court.
The judge acknowledged the impact a prison sentence would have on Ecclestone’s health and his immediate family – including the elderly magnate’s three-year-old son, Ace.
He had been due to stand trial on November 15, but during the surprise hearing he stood in the well of the court behind his team of lawyers and said ‘I plead guilty’ to the single charge of fraud by false representation.
Ecclestone, who wore a three-piece suit with a grey tie and was joined in court by wife Fabiana, then moved into the dock for sentencing.
He showed no emotion during the hearing but as he clambered into the back seat of a white Range Rover outside court he nodded when asked if he was happy with the sentence.
Fabiana joined in on the skiing, while Ecclestone watched on from the sidelines in a navy coat with a pair of grey and pink sunglasses
Their appearance comes after the Formula One tycoon agreed to pay more than a quarter of his wealth to the taxman
Ecclestone was also seen greeting Austrian former Formula One racing driver Gerhard Berger as they attended the Men’s Downhill event at FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup
Sentencing Ecclestone, who heard the judge’s remarks from the dock, Mr Justice Bryan said: ‘Your offending is so serious that neither a fine or a community order would be appropriate.
‘It is rightly acknowledged that the custody threshold has been passed.’
The court heard that the billionaire had concealed the existence of a trust in Singapore when HMRC investigators quizzed him about his tax affairs in July 2015.
Ecclestone had been asked by officers if he was a settlor or beneficiary of any trust in or outside the UK, and had answered: ‘No.’ Judge Bryan said this was a lie, as the tycoon was indeed linked to two complicated trust structures known as the Kinan trust and the Nanki trust.
Ecclestone’s lawyer, Clare Montgomery KC, said that it was never her client’s intention to avoid paying tax and he was simply unaware of the true position of his affairs at the time.
‘He simply didn’t know the answer to HMRC’s question and he should have said ‘I don’t know’ instead of ‘no’,’ she added.
‘He obviously bitterly regrets these events.
‘We accept the offending is serious, but it is an impulsive lapse of judgement that happened now eight years ago.
‘He is now in frail health; the whole process has caused immense stress to him and those who love him, and the reality is he has been living under investigation for over a decade.’
Ecclestone and his wife Fabiano Flosi at Southwark Crown Court in October
HMRC began probing Ecclestone’s tax affairs following proceedings in Germany in 2011 when he was accused of paying a bribe to banker Gerhard Gribkowsky to help steer F1’s ownership towards a private equity firm that would retain him as chief executive.
Gribkowsky admitted accepting a bribe, but Ecclestone denied the allegations and paid £60million to end the trial in 2014, meaning he was found neither guilty nor innocent.
HMRC opened an investigation into the tycoon’s tax affairs in 2012 and Ecclestone was later offered the chance to correct mistakes in his tax and pay what was owed plus a penalty through a formal civil process known as a Contractual Disclosure Facility.
His denials about links to the trusts then led to the criminal prosecution.
And they meant he also faced the maximum penalty for offshore non-compliance, meaning that of the £652,634,836 he has repaid in respect of sums due to HMRC over the course of 18 years from 1994, more than £330million was in fines.
Speaking outside the court, chief crown prosecutor at the CPS, Andrew Penhale, said: ‘All members of UK society, regardless of how wealthy or famous they are, must pay their taxes and be transparent and open with HMRC about their financial affairs.’ Chief investigation officer at HMRC, Richard Las, said the billionaire had been given ample time and opportunity to be honest about his tax affairs.
‘Instead of taking these opportunities he lied to HMRC and as a result we opened a criminal investigation,’ he said.