German prosecutors set to charge Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone over alleged $44m bribe

In 2012, a court sentenced German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky to eight-and-a-half years in prison for taking the alleged payment for organising the sale of a large stake in the sport

Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone is expected to face charges in Germany over an alleged $44m bribe paid to a German banker who organised the sale of a large stake in F1, it was reported.

Sky News said a source had told them that prosecutors in Munich were expected to issue a statement on Thursday confirming the start of legal action, although this could still be delayed or an out-of-court settlement might be reached.

The case centres on $44m (about £27m) payment that Mr Ecclestone made to banker Gerhard Gribkowsky.

In 2012, a German court sentenced Mr Gribkowsky to eight-and-a-half years in prison for taking the alleged bribe.

Mr Ecclestone has persistently denied the money was a bribe, but admitted that he had paid £8m and his Bambino family trust had given the remainder.

In 2011, he told The Independent that the money was payment for work that Mr Gribkowsky had done as a property consultant for the trust.

Mr Ecclestone previously said the payment was made to stop Mr Gribkowsky reporting false allegations about his tax affairs to the Inland Revenue. He claimed that Mr Gribkowsky suggested that he would inform the tax authority that Mr Ecclestone controls his family's offshore trust, which could make him liable to pay the tax on the estimated £2.5bn it has received from F1.

There are other theories.

German media rights firm Constantin Medien has claimed in court that Mr Ecclestone and the Bambino trust paid the money to Mr Gribkowsky to undervalue a 47.2 per cent stake in F1 when it was sold by a German bank to private equity firm CVC in 2006.

Constantin said that in return Mr Gribkowsky steered the sale of F1 to CVC as it had agreed to retain Mr Ecclestone as the sport's chief executive.

CVC bought the stake for $814m but Constantin said other buyers would have paid more.

Sky News said Mr Ecclestone's trial was understood to be due to start in April. It said the precise nature of the charges was unclear.

CVC declined to comment on the report.

But Christian Horner, head of the Red Bull Racing F1 team, said yesterday that Mr Ecclestone was “absolutely the best and only guy to do what he does, to take Formula One to the global reach that the sport has achieved... it's in all our interests that he's around as long as possible”.

Mr Ecclestone has stepped down as a member of the board of F1's holding company, but will continue to run the sport on a day-to-day basis.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice