Bribery case could force Ecclestone out
31 December 2012 – Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone says he may be forced into retirement if he is charged in a bribary case surrounding the sale of the sport to private equity firm CVC back in 2006. The business magnate is alleged to have paid German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky a bribe of around 27 million pounds during the deal.
Ecclestone insists that the payment was not corrupt, instead arguing that Gribkowsky had been threatening to give tax information to HM Revenue & Customs. However, since the latter's arrest in 2011, the 82-year-old has also been under investigation.
"(CVC) will probably be forced to get rid of me if the Germans come after me," Ecclestone explained to The Sunday Telegraph. "It’s pretty obvious, if I’m locked up."
Ecclestone added that CVC has also hired head-hunting agency Egon Zehnder to draft up a list of potential replacements should he leave his post in the near future.
"They said they had hired a head-hunter to find somebody in the event that I was not going to be there - if I was going to die or something," Ecclestone said of the situation. "It is the normal thing they do to keep people happy."
Earlier this month, Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo argued that if found guilty, Ecclestone has no other choice but to resign: "If Bernie is accused under process, I think he will be the first to give a step back in the interests of Formula 1."