Bernie Ecclestone attempts to halt £26m German bribery trial

If found guilty of the corruption charge, Ecclestone, who denies the allegation, faces up to 10 years imprisonment

Formula 1 billionaire Bernie Ecclestone has offered to pay a German bank £20m to halt a criminal trial in which he is accused of bribery, his lawyers said.

Prosecutors in Munich, where the 83-year-old motorsport magnate went on trial in April over claims he paid a £26m bung to secure a business deal, are still mulling whether to accept the proposal.

If found guilty of the corruption charge, Mr Ecclestone, who denies the allegation and claims he is a victim of blackmail, faces up to 10 years imprisonment and an abrupt end to his decades-long dominance of F1.

Under German law, charges can be withdrawn by prosecutors during some forms of criminal trial if all sides reach an agreement. The authorities had earlier rejected a request from Mr Ecclestone’s representatives for the case against him to be thrown out on the grounds of a lack of evidence.

The Briton’s lawyers said he was now willing to pay 25m euros (£20m) to state-owned Bayerische Landesbank, which had become a major stakeholder in F1 in 2002, to conclude the proceedings.

 

Bloomberg reported that the court was told Mr Ecclestone still considered the allegations against him to be “highly questionable” but he wished to send an end to the case, which had become “extremely burdensome”.

In a statement, the court said that discussions between defence lawyers and prosecutors “on a potential end to the proceedings have not yet reached a conclusion”.

Mr Ecclestone is accused of paying Gerhard Gribkowsky, a former board member at Bayerische LB, in return for ensuring that the sale of the bank’s F1 stake went to the private equity fund of the British billionaire’s choice.

Prosecutors claim that Mr Ecclestone wanted the fund in question - CVC - to secure the purchase because it would ensure he stayed as chief executive of the sport he had turned into a multi-billion pound global enterprise.

Mr Ecclestone insists the payment was made under duress to Gribkowsky, who he claims had threatened to make false claims about his tax affairs.

Gribkowsky, who was sentenced to eight and a half years’ imprisonment in 2012 for accepting bribes, has acknowledged that he spread rumours about the Briton but denies he was attempting blackmail. In his testimony to the court he said: “I’m no evil extortionist.”

Despite selling a majority of his F1 holdings in the 1990s, Mr Ecclestone remains a dominant figure in the sport and controls its commercial rights. He has been juggling his appearances at court with managing the motor sport amid reports of dissatisfaction among some teams with attendance levels at this month’s German grand prix.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

HR Manager - Edgware, London - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - Edgware, Lon...

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week