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Ecclestone gives details on payment to German banker

Jul 15, 2014, 1:57 PM EDT

Bernie Ecclestone Getty Images

In court testimony today, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone said that his multi-million dollar payment to jailed German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky was meant to keep him silent and not to pave the way for the sale of a major stake in Formula One.

Ecclestone has continuously maintained that his payment to Gribkowsky was made because the banker, formerly a chief risk officer for the BayernLB group, threatened to make false claims to British authorities over his tax affairs that could have endangered his fortune.

Today in Munich, Ecclestone maintained that stance in his testimony.

“I was a little sarcastic when I asked, ‘Would 50 million help you?’,” Ecclestone said of a conversation with Gribkowsky according to Reuters – adding that “it was the cheapest insurance policy I have ever seen.”

Ecclestone faces a 10-year jail term if found guilty in his ongoing bribery trial.

He is accused of making a $44 million payment to Gribkowsky in order to make sure private equity fund CVC earned BayernLB’s former stake in F1; CVC became F1’s largest shareholder in 2006.

Reuters continues on to say that part of the prosecution’s case against Ecclestone rests on their allegation that he knowingly bribed a public servant, since BayernLB is a state-owned entity.

However, a former Bavarian finance minister and BayernLB board member told the court today that Ecclestone may not have known that the bank was state-owned.

This past May, Gribkowsky – who is in the middle of a jail term of eight and a half years for accepting the bribe – testified against Ecclestone, saying that the offer clearly came from him.

“I had a carrot dangled in front of me. I grabbed the carrot,” said Gribkowsky, who also admitted to spreading rumors about Ecclestone’s tax status but only for “nuisance value” since he didn’t have concrete information.

Bloomberg Businessweek reports that Gribkowsky will testify again during the trial, which is expected to go into the fall. It is currently proceeding on a schedule of two days per week in order to accommodate Ecclestone’s day-to-day running of F1.

  1. barrylibby - Jul 15, 2014 at 3:48 PM

    Bernie “may not have mown the bank was state owned”!
    Ya right, Marusia is also the 2014 constructors’ champion !!!!!!

    • testover6370 - Jul 15, 2014 at 7:30 PM

      Yeah that statement surprised me too. Really isn’t that somewhere around step one in due diligence, knowing who owns the company you are dealing with? This isn’t some shadowing shell corporation, I assume that information would be rather public and upfront.

  2. techmeister1 - Jul 15, 2014 at 5:51 PM

    I hope if Bernie is guilty he is convicted and spends the rest of his life in prison. History however has shown that laws apply differently to the wealthy so we’ll see how this all turns out considering Bernie admits he bribed a state official. In my world knowing or not knowing if the bank was state owned isn’t the point at all. The point is he admits to making an illegal bribe. Bernie’s ignorance should certainly NOT be a get out of jail free card.

  3. worknman24hours - Jul 17, 2014 at 8:47 PM

    This is not a case of Bernie being ignorant.

    This is a case where Bernie represented others interests then his own and had to make sure a deal went through on time and on budget.

    Times is money.

    Bernie did not solicit a bribe.he was told the deal would never go through unless he paid this man the money.

    In the world of ultra high power business deals,sometimes you pay people you don’t want to pay because they hold the power over the deal.

    And Bernie never hid one darn thing about how he did the deal from the prosecutors.

    This is a damn witchhunt.

    The prosecutors know that and they have spent so much money propping up the guy who initiated,secured AND WAS CONVICTED OF THE BLACKMAIL against Bernie and the companies he represented,they are almost approving of what that dirtbag did to Bernie and those companies he represented.

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