Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has been indicted by German prosecutors on a bribery charge. The charge is related to a US $44 million payment to German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky of Bayern Landesbank, linked to the sale of a stake in F1.
Ecclestone has denied the bribery accusations, saying that the money was intended to stop the banker from exposing him to a UK tax inquiry. Gribkowsky was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in jail in Munich.
I have just spoken to my lawyers and they have received an indictment. It’s being translated into English. We are defending it properly. It will be an interesting case. It’s a pity it’s happened.
- Bernie Ecclestone to the Financial Times
The charges are related to the sale of a 47% stake in Formula 1 by Bayern Landesbank to private equity group CVC Capital Partners in 2006. Gribkowsky, who was in charge of managing the sale, admitted to corruptly receiving US $41.4 million in bank commissions and a large payment via the Ecclestone family’s Bambino Trust at his trial last year. He maintained he had been paid to undervalue the Formula 1 shares, whereas Ecclestone says he believed the banker was planning to give false information to the UK authorities about his tax affairs, and paid him to keep him quiet.
Bernie Ecclestone faces a possible jail term if found guilty, which would force him to stand down as head of Formula 1, as stated by him previously. He has six weeks to respond to the indictment.
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