Exclusive: Bernie Ecclestone bribery trial to be fitted around his F1 schedule

The 83-year-old billionaire has been in F1's driving seat for nearly 40 years but his position is now under threat

Bernie Ecclestone has revealed that prosecutors have agreed to schedule hearings in his forthcoming bribery trial in Munich just on Tuesdays and Wednesdays so he can continue to run Formula One and travel to races at the same time.

Ecclestone was speaking at length for the first time since a High Court judge ruled he had paid a bribe to steer the sale of F1 to the private equity firm CVC in 2006. He vowed that the truth will come out in the trial and added that F1's reputation has not been dented by the scandal.

Ecclestone has been in F1's driving seat for nearly 40 years but his position is now under threat. When the trial against him was announced in January he resigned as a director of F1's parent company Delta Topco and if he loses in court he could face a prison sentence. Yet that prospect has made him all the more defiant.

"Of course I can run the company at the same time as doing the trial in Germany," the 83-year-old billionaire told The Independent at a meeting in a London hotel.

"I am in court for two days a week on Tuesday and Wednesday. The judge did it so I am able to go to races at the weekend. I will probably go on Monday nights, because I have to be there at 9.30am, stay Tuesday night and come back Wednesday. He said we will get the hearings on Wednesday out of the way before 5pm so I can leave."

However, Ecclestone admitted that he would need help to run F1 while the case is ongoing. He will not hire a second-in-command but instead, "one or two people here that have been a bit shy on working will have to get their act into gear. I'm going to be bloody busy doing so much that I'm going to need some help or something from internally," he said.

Ecclestone's legal difficulties stem from a $44m (£26m) payment made by him and his Bambino family trust between 2006 and 2007. The recipient was Gerhard Gribkowsky, a former executive at German bank BayernLB (BLB) who was responsible for selling its 47.2 per cent stake in F1. Prosecutors believe that the payment was a bribe to steer the sale of the stake to the private equity firm CVC as it had agreed to retain Ecclestone as F1's chief executive.

Bambino and F1's two remaining shareholders, the investment banks JP Morgan and Lehman Brothers, followed BLB and sold to CVC giving it control of F1. Ecclestone denies paying a bribe.

Last month Ecclestone won a related civil case in London's High Court in which he was accused of undervaluing F1 through the alleged bribe because other bidders may have paid more than CVC. Although Ecclestone won the case, the judge, Mr Justice Newey, ruled that "the payments were a bribe... Mr Ecclestone's aim was to be rid of the banks. He was keen that their shares should be transferred to someone more congenial to him."

News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Bruce, left, with Cream bandmates Ginger Rogers, centre, and Eric Clapton in 1967
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker