Bernie insists he is innocent and won’t hand over £240m in bribery trial
Bernie Ecclestone has said he will fight bribery charges – and risk a jail term of up to 10 years – rather than pay out a slice of his £4billion fortune to settle a criminal case in Germany.
A report at the weekend suggested he may hand over about £240million once the trial gets underway in Munich in April. According to a court official quoted in the story, the money could be paid to, ‘a charitable institution or the treasury, if the accused, the public prosecutors and also the court agrees with it.’
But Ecclestone dismissed the idea out of hand. ‘There’s absolutely no way I’ll do that,’ he told Sportsmail.
Court case: Bernie Ecclestone claims he would rather risk going to jail than pay out some of his fortune
Adamant: Ecclestone remains insistent that he is innocent of all wrongdoing
‘That is not how it works, anyway. We could possibly have come to some sort of arrangement when all this started but we decided not to do that.
‘It’s not an option now and we wouldn’t go with it even if it was. We will go to court and present our case. We have nothing at all to hide.’
Ecclestone’s defiant stance reflects his insistent belief that he is innocent of all wrongdoing.
Another issue is whether Ecclestone paid a £27m bribe to Gerhard Gribkowsky, the chief operating officer of German bank Bayern LB, so he would manoeuvre the sale of the bank’s shares in Formula One to CVC, a private equity firm who, it is alleged, were Ecclestone’s favoured buyer because they had pledged to keep him on as the sport’s controller.
Gribkowsky has already been sentenced in Germany to eight-and-a-half years in jail.
Guilty: Gerhard Gribkowsky has already been sentenced to almost nine years in jail
THE ECCLESTONE FILES
July 2013: Indicted for alleged bribery over the £27million payment to German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky to sell his F1 stake. Gribkowsky facilitated the sale to private equity group CVC as part of their takeover of F1 in 2006, and was subsequently convicted on corruption charges and jailed for eight-and-a-half years. A Munich court last week decided Ecclestone must stand trial in April.
Dec 2013: Ecclestone stands trial in London accused of a ‘corrupt agreement’ with Gribkowsky and of conspiring to undervalue F1 when it was sold in 2006 to CVC, in order to retain control of the sport. German media giant Constantin Medien had an interest in the sale of a stake belonging to then F1 shareholder BayernLB, and is claiming damages of £85m, plus interest. A verdict is pending.
Jan 2014: A New York court throws out a case against Ecclestone brought by US investment firm Bluewaters, seeking $650million damages over the sale of F1 to CVC by BayernLB.
Source : Daily Mail