Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone charged in $44 million bribery case in Germany

  • Article by: ROB HARRIS , AP Sports Writer
  • Updated: July 17, 2013 - 5:45 PM

LONDON — Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has been charged by German prosecutors with paying a $44 million bribe, placing his future as head of the motor sport series in doubt.

The 82-year-old British billionaire has been under investigation since a German banker was convicted of taking the payment from him in connection with the sale of a stake in F1.

The Munich state court said Ecclestone has until mid-August to respond to charges of bribery and incitement to breach of trust in connection with Gerhard Gribkowsky's management of the bank BayernLB's 47 percent stake in F1.

Ecclestone, the longtime commercial head of F1, acknowledged during Gribkowsky's trial in 2011 that he made the payment five years earlier but said he was pressured to do so.

Ecclestone's indictment was dated on May 10 and has since been translated into English and delivered to Ecclestone and his lawyers, the court said.

"The lawyers have accepted an indictment," Ecclestone told The Associated Press. "It means they have to reply to the indictment, which they are strenuously doing."

Ecclestone, who Forbes magazine reports is worth $3.8 billion, said he is yet to read the indictment.

"They are alleging I bribed someone," Ecclestone said, while insisting he did "nothing illegal."

Sentences in Germany for bribery range from three months to 10 years in prison.

CVC Capital Partners, the investment group that has owned F1's commercial rights since 2006, issued no direct comment Wednesday about the future of Ecclestone.

"Mr. Ecclestone has six weeks to provide a response to this bill of indictment prior to a decision being made by the court on opening proceedings," the board of Formula One Group said in a statement. "The board will continue to monitor developments in this situation accordingly."

Ecclestone was retained as chief executive of F1 by CVC after it took control of the sport following the takeover that sparked the bribery case.

Gribkowsky was in charge of selling BayernLB's stake in F1 to CVC.

In addition to taking the money from Ecclestone, Gribkowsky used BayernLB's funds to pay the F1 chief a commission of $41.4 million and agreed to pay a further $25 million to Bambino Trust, a company with which Ecclestone was affiliated, prosecutors said during the trial in 2011.

Ecclestone told the court he deserved a commission for the sale, saying "I did a very, very good job."

On Wednesday, he told the AP: "They wanted money. I was shaken down by the guys. It's happened in life before."

Gribkowsky, who has largely admitted the charges, was sentenced to 8½ years in prison after being found guilty last year of corruption, tax evasion and breach of trust.

Ecclestone's German lawyers, Sven Thomas and Norbert Scharf, said they will soon submit a "comprehensive response" to the court — and the central issue in that response will be "the varying 'confessions' of Mr. Gribkowsky."

Ecclestone was savvy in building his power base in F1 from the 1970s and helped to create the Formula One Constructors' Association that controlled the business side of the sport, including selling the TV rights.

The British-based company later became known as Formula One Management. It has fought regular tussles with the teams over finances, but has retained control of the global motor racing series.

CVC, having amassed a 63 percent stake of F1, has reduced its holding as other investors have come on board in recent years, although a planned flotation has stalled.

Ecclestone's holding has been diluted to about 5 percent.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Yankees - LP: M. Pineda 0 FINAL
Toronto - WP: D. Hutchison 2
Detroit - LP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: C. Sale 6
Chicago Cubs - WP: F. Doubront 5 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: J. Masterson 1
Cincinnati 1 Top 6th Inning
Pittsburgh 3
Minnesota - K. Gibson 6:05 PM
Baltimore - C. Tillman
Philadelphia - J. Williams 6:10 PM
NY Mets - B. Colon
Miami - J. Cosart 6:10 PM
Atlanta - A. Harang
Boston - A. Webster 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - J. Odorizzi
Cleveland - T. Bauer 6:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Shields
Detroit - K. Ryan 6:10 PM
Chicago WSox - C. Bassitt
Texas - R. Ross Jr. 6:10 PM
Houston - S. Feldman
Colorado - T. Matzek 7:10 PM
Arizona - V. Nuno
Chicago Cubs - T. Wada 7:15 PM
St. Louis - M. Gonzales
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke 7:40 PM
San Diego - I. Kennedy
Milwaukee - M. Fiers 8:05 PM
San Francisco - J. Peavy
Oakland - J. Samardzija 8:05 PM
LA Angels - C. Rasmus
Washington - S. Strasburg 8:10 PM
Seattle - R. Elias
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
BYU 35 FINAL
Connecticut 10
(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
Bowling Green 31 FINAL
Western Ky 59
TX-San Antonio 27 FINAL
Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
UNLV 13 FINAL
Arizona 58
Penn State 26 FINAL
UCF 24
Troy 10 FINAL
UAB 48
(7) UCLA 28 FINAL
Virginia 20
Western Mich 34 FINAL
Purdue 43
(5) Ohio State 34 FINAL
Navy 17
Appalachian St 14 FINAL
Michigan 52
Ga Southern 23 FINAL
NC State 24
Boston College 27 4th Qtr 14:52
Massachusetts 7
West Virginia 17 3rd Qtr
(2) Alabama 20
Rice 10 3rd Qtr
(17) Notre Dame 28
(10) South Dakota St 10 3rd Qtr 13:01
(24) Missouri 21
Fla Atlantic 7 3rd Qtr
(22) Nebraska 31
California 24 3rd Qtr 15:00
Northwestern 7
Marshall 28 3rd Qtr
Miami-Ohio 3
UC Davis 0 2nd Qtr 0:25
(11) Stanford 35
Arkansas 21 2nd Qtr 2:45
(6) Auburn 21
(16) Clemson 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(8) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(1) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(17) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Colorado 0 2nd Half 35:00
Seattle 1
New England 1 1st Half 25:00
Toronto FC 0
Columbus 6:30 PM
Montreal
FC Dallas 7:30 PM
Chicago
Real Salt Lake 9:30 PM
San Jose
Portland 9:30 PM
Vancouver FC
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Chicago 6:00 PM
Indiana
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close