Ecclestone: why I paid a banker £27m hush money

 

Munich

The Formula One boss, Bernie Ecclestone, admitted yesterday to paying a Munich banker £27.5m to stop him from making allegations about a family trust to the Inland Revenue which he claimed could have made him liable for billions in back tax.

Mr Ecclestone, 81, appeared as a key witness in a Munich court in what has been billed as Germany's biggest post-war corruption trial, involving payments and alleged bribery totalling more than £55m. He told the court he paid the £27.5m to banker Gerhard Gribkowsky in 2006 to prevent him from making what he said were unfounded allegations that he controlled a family trust called Bambino.

He said he feared the allegations could have left him liable for back tax estimated at about £2bn. "It would have been a disaster for me. It was risk I could not afford to take," he said. "I thought that if he [Gribkowsky] gets upset with me, he might do something quite vindictive.

"I thought if I give him the money, it might help to keep him quiet and peaceful and not do silly things."

The payment was made during the sale of Formula One in 2006. At the time, Mr Gribkowsky worked for the state-owned Bayerische Landesbank (BLB) and was in charge of the sale of BLB's Formula One stake. Under the deal, Mr Ecclestone is alleged to have received the equivalent of £25.4m from the BLB with a further £15.5m being paid into the Bambino trust.

Prosecutors have charged Mr Gribkowsky with bribery, corruption and tax evasion. He faces up to 10 years in jail if convicted. The case relates to a large Formula One stake which BLB sold to a private equity company called QVC five years ago. Mr Ecclestone told the court Mr Gribkowsky had been fascinated by Formula One and had told him how he wanted get out of banking and start up business on his own, which would include a stake in motor racing. Mr Ecclestone said he told him, "We'll think about it". "In fact this was a British way of saying no," he said.

The Formula One boss said he feared that if he failed to help the banker with his ambitions, he would make unfounded claims suggesting that he was the sole controller of the multibillion-pound Bambino trust Mr Ecclestone set up for his estranged wife. Mr Ecclestone said the taxman finally cleared him of any involvement with the trust in 2008.

Mr Ecclestone insisted that if Mr Gribkowsky had made the allegations, the Inland Revenue would have had no option but to investigate him. "The onus would have been on me to prove that I was innocent," he said. "It would have been a disaster. It was always my thought that this could happen. It was a risk I was could not afford to take."

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
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 General

Savvy Media Ltd: Media Sales executive - Crawley

£25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Solicitor NQ+ Oxford

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible