Formula One boss Ecclestone denies bribery at German trial

MUNICH, Germany, (Reuters) – Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone denied bribery charges yesterday at the start of a trial in Germany that threatens to break his decades-long dominance of motor racing.

Prosecutors accuse the 83-year-old Briton of bribing banker Gerhard Gribkowsky by channelling $44 million to him in return for smoothing the sale of a stake in Formula One to private equity firm CVC eight years ago.

They say that Ecclestone favoured CVC as the new owner because it was committed to keeping him on as chief executive of the business.

The former used-car salesman, who became a billionaire by building motor racing into a global money spinner over the past four decades, is fighting to save his job and his reputation. He faces up to 10 years in jail if convicted.

“Gribkowsky did not tell the truth at crucial points,” Ecclestone told the court in a 100-page statement read out in German on his behalf by his lawyer Sven Thomas.

Ecclestone maintains that he was the victim of coercion by Gribkowsky. He said Gribkowsky was threatening to make damaging claims about his tax affairs that could have cost him and his family much of their fortune.

“I saw my life’s work in danger,” he said in his statement, explaining that was why he had paid $22.7 million to Gribkowsky.

Ecclestone, wearing a dark suit, sat at a wooden desk flanked by his lawyers and with an interpreter at his side to translate for him on the first day of a case due to last until September.




CVC remains the largest shareholder in the business, which generates annual revenues of over $1.5 billion from its series of grand prix races around the world. CVC co-chairman Donald Mackenzie has said he would fire Ecclestone if he was found guilty of wrongdoing.

Despite his age, Ecclestone attends almost every grand prix race and remains central to the sport’s commercial success. He has always dismissed talk of retirement, and there is no obvious replacement when he does finally quit or is forced out.

More in Sports


About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning:

Most Read This Week

  1. Convicted drug trafficker Barry Dataram about to be handed over to local enforcement officials by the Suriname police. Inset is the information page in the fake passport for “David Persaud” that was being used by the fugitive. (Royston Drakes photos)

    Dataram, wife returned to Guyana

  2. Back in court: In this Keno George composite photo, Barry Dataram (left) and his wife Anjanie Boodnarine at court yesterday to answer three charges including fleeing the jurisdiction.

    Dataram to serve eight years in jail after guilty plea to new charges

  3. Yansen Brusche

    Ulverston mom of four stabbed to death by children’s father

  4. Ameer Subrati

    Man dies after bandits target overseas-based couple at Herstelling

  5. US Ambassador Perry Holloway and Finance Minister Winston Jordan shake hands after the signing of the agreement yesterday.

    Guyana inks pact for reporting to IRS on holdings of US citizens

  6. Updated: Man dies after bandits attack overseas-based Guyanese at Herstelling

  7. Barry Dataram

    Datarams getaway passports had been issued to other people

  8. Dr. Prudence Lewis-Bhola

    Prudence Lewis-Bhola appointed as CEO of broadcasting authority

  9. Bharrat Jagdeo

    Crime has never been this bad – Jagdeo

Recommended For You