I took Bernie Ecclestone's £28m bribe, admits banker


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The Independent Online

Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone could face prosecution after a German banker admitted taking $44m (£28m) in bribes from him. Mr Ecclestone has denied bribing the banker.

Addressing the charges against him for the first time yesterday in a Munich court, Gerhard Gribkowsky, 54, said accusations that he took payments from Mr Ecclestone are "essentially true."

"I allowed myself to be bribed, " Mr Gribkowsky told the court.

Mr Gribkowsky, the former deputy chief of the regional bank Bayern Landesbank, is currently on trial in Germany for bribery. Mr Ecclestone has been accused of making payments to Mr Gribkowsky to ensure that the 2006 sale of a majority share of Formula One owned by the bank was sold to a favoured British investor CVC.

Testifying as a witness earlier in the trial, Mr Ecclestone denied the payments were bribes, and said that he had been worried that if he had not paid the money, Mr Gribkowsky would have alerted UK tax authorities to "things" that might have led to a tax inquiry.

Mr Ecclestone has not been charged with any crime, but reports last night claimed German police were considering whether to prosecute. Mr Gribkowsky faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.