Ecclestone to face bribery chargesAugust 2013
GERMANY: the British billionaire Bernie Ecclestone has been charged with bribing a banker in 2006 to smooth the sale of the bank’s 47% stake in the Formula One motor racing group, of which he is the chief executive and president, to CVC Capital Partners.
Gerhard Gribkowsky, who was chief risk officer at Bayern Landesbank, was jailed last year for eight and a half years for withholding tax on the sale proceeds, breach of trust towards the bank, and receiving corrupt payments of $44m (£29m, €33.6m) from Ecclestone.
Gribkowsky admitted corruption and claimed he had been paid to undervalue the shares.
Ecclestone, who denies the bribery charge, admits paying the $44m but says it was hush money to stop Gribkowsky from reporting him as a tax-dodger. He denies tax-dodging and maintains the payments were aimed at avoiding an expensive action to disprove Gribkowsky’s allegations.”
His lawyer Sven Thomas said: “The clear viewpoint of the defence remains that Mr Ecclestone is guilty neither of bribery nor of participation in embezzlement.”
The speculation in Germany is that in view of his age Ecclestone, now nearly 83, will be invited to reach an out-of-court settlement. Without such a deal Ecclestone has until mid-August to answer the charges. The case, if taken to trial, could start in mid-September.
Ecclestone faces other inquiries and is being sued by Constantin Medien, which says it lost £171m because Formula One was undersold.
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