Bernie Ecclestone was reportedly arrested in Brazil on Wednesday
Former Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has denied being arrested in Brazil for allegedly trying to take a gun on board a private flight bound for Switzerland on Wednesday.
Though the Sao Paulo state public security office said to Reuters that an unnamed businessman had been arrested at Viracopos International Airport in Campinas 50 miles from Sao Paulo, the 91-year-old stated “I was never arrested” to the same outlet and described his brush with the law as a “silly, tiny little incident”.
“I haven’t had any publicity lately and I thought I ought to do something to get some,” Ecclestone joked, while confirming that he had indeed paid a fine of 6,060 Brazilian reais ($1,260) in bail as originally reported before being allowed to continue his trip.
Ecclestone explained that Brazilian officials wanted the money in local currency, which he didn’t have therefore causing “another drama”.
“I was leaving the country, I didn’t have any local money. It was a bleeding drama, unnecessary, over a nothing,” he lamented.
As claimed by reports on Thursday, Ecclestone said that he bought the LW Seecamp .32 from a Formula One mechanic or tire man years ago, and had carried it without ammunition and purely to act as a deterrent “if someone tried to mug you or something”.
“They said you need something like this,” explained Ecclestone, who is married to a Brazilian and whose mother-in-law was once kidnapped and held to ransom in one of South America’s most dangerous countries.
“I had it in the house and used to muck around with it if people came to visit me or something, we would joke around,” he revealed.
Ecclestone left the gun in a shirt pocket, with the people who pack his luggage putting the clothing in a suitcase without realizing it also contained the firearm.
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But when Ecclestone walked through airport scanning devices, the unregistered gun then showed up and caused alarm.
“It was never going to be shot, it never had any bullets so I never bothered to register it. I didn’t know you had to,” protested Ecclestone, who said he was in the airport making statements and filling out paperwork from 8pm until 5am the following morning before being allowed to leave for Europe.