Ecclestone Implicated After German Bank Official Charged for Accepting F1 Bribes

July 20, 2011

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has been accused of bribery after prosecutors in Munich have charged a former senior executive at a German bank for allegedly taking bribes from with the sale of the bank’s stake in Formula One.

Gerhard Gribkowsky, the former head of risk management at Bavarian bank BayernLB, is being charged with corruption, abuse of confidence and tax evasion, after overseeing the sale of BayernLB’s commercial rights stake to private equity firm CVC Capital Partners in early 2006.

Prosecutors claim that two Austrian companies set up by Gribkowsky received US$44 million in payments from Ecclestone and his holding company Bambino Trust.

A court must now decide whether Gribkowsky, who was arrested in January, will stand trial on the charges.

The companies, which used bogus consulting contracts, had addresses in Mauritius and the British Virgin Islands and did not pay German taxes.

Prosecutors claim that Gribkowsky later used BayernLB’s funds to pay the Formula One chief a commission of US$41.4 million and added a further agreement for US$25 million to Bambino Trust.

Ecclestone was questioned by state prosecutors last April as part of the probe into irregular payments made during the sale and is still under investigation, prosecutors spokeswoman Barbara Stockinger said.

It is understood that the state prosecutor’s office is waiting to see what happens to the corruption charges against Gribkowksy before making a decision on whether to indict Ecclestone, rather than risk the embarrassment of seeing what would be an extremely high-profile case fall apart.

The British billionaire, who is CEO and president of F1’s governing body, has denied corruption charges.