Formula One Boss Ecclestone to stand trial in Germany on bribery charges

Ecclestone said he gave banker millions to avoid being reported over tax matters

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 January, 2014, 11:52pm
UPDATED : Friday, 17 January, 2014, 8:57am


Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone will go on trial on bribery charges in Germany, probably in late April, a court said yesterday.

The Munich state court said it decided to send the 83-year-old Ecclestone to trial following his indictment last May. He faces charges of bribery and incitement to breach of trust connected with a US$45 million payment to a German banker, Gerhard Gribkowsky.

Dates for the trial have not been set, but proceedings are currently expected to start at the end of April, a court statement said.

Sentences in Germany for bribery range from three months to 10 years in prison.

Ecclestone's German lawyers, Sven Thomas and Norbert Scharf, said: "The alleged bribery did not happen. The accusations in the indictment based on Gribkowsky's statement are unfounded and do not … add up to a coherent picture."

Gribkowsky was convicted in 2012 of taking the payment from Ecclestone in connection with the sale of a stake in F1.

He was found guilty of corruption, tax evasion and breach of trust, and sentenced to 81/2 years in prison.

Ecclestone has insisted that he did "nothing illegal". He acknowledged during Gribkowsky's trial that he made the payment, but said he was pressured to do so.

Gribkowsky was in charge of selling German bank BayernLB's 47 per cent stake in F1 to an investment group 2006. In addition to taking the money from Ecclestone, Gribkowsky used BayernLB's funds to pay the F1 boss a commission of US$41.4 million and agreed to pay a further US$25 million to Bambino Trust, a company with which Ecclestone was affiliated, prosecutors said during the Gribkowsky trial.

Ecclestone said in November that he made a payment to avoid being reported by Gribkowsky to authorities over his tax affairs.