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
Wednesday 15 January 2014
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.
Paul Scholes: Manchester United vs Liverpool - I don't understand why Brendan Rodgers was not more attacking against Basel
Jesus Christ plays for Chelsea - that's what one in five children thinks
Transfer Talk: Nemanja Vidic to return to Manchester United; Hazard to leave Chelsea; Sunderland want Radamel Falcao
Frank Warren column: Don't bet on Amir Khan landing pay day against Floyd Mayweather
Manchester United transfer news: Kevin Strootman move edges closer
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre