German lawsuit against Ecclestone to begin
24 April 2014 – Court proceedings against Bernie Ecclestone are to begin in Munich on Thursday. The Formula 1 supremo, who has been officially indicted on a bribery charge, could face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.
Ecclestone, 83, is to be questioned over a sizeable payment that he made to an employee of German bank BayernLB in the lead up to the sale of Formula 1 to current owners CVC Capital Partners back in 2006.
The employee involved in the alleged $44 million dollar bribe was Gerhard Gribkowsky, who is currently serving an eight and a half year prison sentence after being charged with bribery, breach of trust and tax evasion.
In February, Ecclestone won a lawsuit in England regarding another aspect of Formula 1's sale. German media company Constantin Medien said it had been willing to bid more than CVC for the available shares, subsequently arguing that it lost out financially. But the High Court in London rejected the claim and cleared Ecclestone.
However, it was determined that Ecclestone still had something to answer regarding the bribery accusations.
Ecclestone, who has stepped down from Formula 1's board but remains in control of the sport, has protested his innocence from the start and says he was "shaken down" by Gribkowsky, who had accused him of tax evasion.