Formula 1 Ecclestone Bribery

Bernie Ecclestone

German prosecutors have indicted Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone on a bribery charge.

This charge relates to €33.6m made to a German banker – Gerhard Gribkowsky of Bayern Landesbank. Supposedly it was the sale of a stake in F1. In his defence, Mr Ecclestone said he had paid Mr Gribkowsky to avoid a UK tax inquiry in 2006 into the sale of Formula 1 but he has denied that these payments were bribes.

Mr Gribkowsky has been sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in jail in Munich.

Mr Ecclestone stated: “I have just spoken to my lawyers and they have received an indictment. It’s being translated into English.”

When asked to respond to the indictment he said: “We are defending it properly. It will be an interesting case. It’s a pity it’s happened.” He continued to say that it was “inevitable” that the indictment had been served. “If someone wants to sue you, they can do it and you have to defend it.”

BayernLB regional bank had a 48 per cent stake in Formula 1 and Gribkowsky was in charge of managing the sale to the private equity firm CVC Capital Partners. This meant that the firm owned most of the sport.

Since all of this, CVC has reduced its stake in many different deals.

The case has been continuously going on and last year Gribkowsky admitted last year that he had corruptly received €30.8m in bank commissions from which a large payment was via the Ecclestone family trust, later confirmed to be “essentially true”.

In his testimony, Mr Ecclestone stated that he was worried that had he not paid the money, Gribkowsky may have alerted the UK tax authorities to “things” that may have led to a tax inquiry.

“The only alternative was that the British tax authorities followed a case that would have been very expensive for me,” said Mr Ecclestone at the time.

“The tax risk would have exceeded €2.3bn. I paid him to keep calm and not to do silly things.” 

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