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Former Formula One frontman Bernie Ecclestone found himself afoul of the law on Wednesday when he attempted to flee Brazil with a firearm in his suitcase.
OK, flee might mischaracterize the situation a bit. He was merely boarding a private plane, bound for Switzerland, when police uncovered a LW Seecamp .32 through X-ray screening. Ecclestone confirmed that he owned the firearm, but claimed that he didn’t know it had been packed in his luggage.
Sao Paolo police confirmed in a statement to Reuters that “a businessman” had been arrested for an illegal firearm at an airport in Campinas, but did not name Ecclestone or the airport specifically.
According to reports, Ecclestone, 91, was arrested and detained at Viracopos Airport, released on about $1250 bail and permitted to continue his trip to Switzerland as planned.
Meanwhile, police confiscated the unloaded “small, silver colored pistol.”
ESPN refers to Ecclestone’s gun as “undocumented,” likely because Brazilian law requires all guns to be registered and generally forbids private citizens from carrying a firearm outside of their home without a special (and expensive) permit. Of the estimated 17 million firearms in Brazil, nine million are thought to be unregistered.
Ecclestone, a UK native, is the former CEO of Formula One Group, the group which manages Formula One motor racing. ESPN claims that “Ecclestone was Mr. Formula One, the man who did the deals, turned the wheels and transformed the sport into today’s billion dollar business” and was only deposed in 2017 when “U.S.-based Liberty Media took control of the commercial rights.”
Ecclestone’s wife, Fabiana Flosi, is a Brazilian native and a member of the World Motor Sport Council.