Thursday 18 January 2018

F1’s Bernie Ecclestone claims he has nothing to hide as German trial takes twist

ERNIE BERNIE Ecclestone has again insisted he has "nothing to hide" as a trial in Germany involving a former banker he is alleged to have bribed has taken a new twist.

In July last year, German prosecutors charged Gerhard Gribkowsky, previously on the management board of regional bank BayernLB, with breach of trust, tax evasion and receipt of corrupt payments.

Six years ago Gribkowsky was in charge of managing the sale of BayernLB's 47pc stake in F1 to private equity firm CVC Capital Partners.

Prosecutors claimed Gribkowsky sold the stake without updating its valuation in return for bribes disguised as consulting contracts.

Ecclestone has long denied any wrongdoing with regard to paying Gribkowsky $44m claiming he was being "threatened" and "shaken down" by him.

The 81-year-old has said he paid the money to avoid particular financial dealings being exposed to the Inland Revenue with regard to an offshore family trust known as Bambino Holdings.

In the trial yesterday, Gribkowsky told a Munich court that allegations of bribery were now "essentially true".

Although seemingly exposing Ecclestone, the F1 supremo claims Gribkowsky is now trying to "save himself" after being offered a lighter sentence should he confess.

Speaking in The Daily Telegraph, Ecclestone added: "I suppose he would say that (about receiving bribes), so maybe he gets seven years instead of 14 years.

"The poor guy has been banged up for 18 months. He would have said anything to save himself. He was going to be locked up whatever happens."

It is not yet known what effect, if any, Gribkowsky's testimony will have on Ecclestone, who has never been charged by Munich's state prosecutors.

A judgment in the trial is expected next week, with Gribkowsky now likely to receive a sentence between seven to nine years.

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