Bernie Ecclestone steps down from Formula 1 board pending bribery trial in Germany

Mr Ecclestone is accused of making a corrupt payment to a German banker

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The Independent Online

Bernie Ecclestone has stepped down from the board running Formula 1 racing, after a German court ruled on Thursday that he will be tried on bribery charges.

Mr Ecclestone has stepped down from the board of Delta Topco which runs the sport, until the outcome of the trial in announced. He will remain in charge of Formula 1 in a day-to-day capacity, he said in a statement.

His decision follows a ruling by a panel of judges in Munich on Thursday.

Judges had been deliberating if Mr Ecclestone should face trial over allegations that he made a corrupt payment to a German banker when the sport was sold almost a decade ago, according to Sky News.

The 83-year-old is accused of making a $45 million payment to Gerhard Gribkowsky, who is serving a jail sentence for receiving the payment.

Prosecutors allege that Mr Gribkowsky was paid to ensure that Formula 1 was sold to a private equity group of Mr Ecclestone’s choosing.

Mr Ecclestone admits the payment, but denies the charges and instead claims he was the victim of blackmail.

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He told the board of Delta Topco on Thursday that he intends to vigorously defend the case, which will commence in late April.

A statement read: "After discussion with the board, Mr Ecclestone has proposed and the board has agreed that until the case has been concluded, he will step down as a director with immediate effect, thereby relinquishing his board duties and responsibilities until the case has been resolved.

"The board believes that it is in the best interests of both the F1 business and the sport that Mr Ecclestone should continue to run the business on a day to day basis, but subject to increased monitoring and control by the board. Mr Ecclestone has agreed to these arrangements."

Mr Ecclestone separately faces a £90 million civil claim in London's High Court brought by a German media company, Constantin Medien, who allege that they lost out financially when Formula 1 was sold in 2006.

Mr Ecclestone and Mr Gribkowsky were accused in court of conspiring to undervalue the sport when it was sold, to ensure that Mr Ecclestone could retain control over Formula 1.