Ecclestone's claims questioned

Saturday 03-May-2014 10:20

Prosecutors cast doubt over Bernie Ecclestone's claims that he was blackmailed by Gerhard Gribkowsky as the F1 supremo returned to court.

Ecclestone was back in the dock in Munich on Friday, charged with bribing Gribkowsky during the sale of Formula 1 from BayernLB to private equity firm CVC eight years ago.

The 83-year-old is alleged to have paid the former German banker $44 million to ensure that CVC secured the stake as they were committed to keeping him as chief executive.

Ecclestone has denied the charges, insisting that Gribkowsky had blackmailed him.

The F1 supremo claims that German threatened to make false allegations about his tax affairs, which would jeopardise his fortune.

However, on Friday in court, prosecutors likened Ecclestone's explanation of the payment to "a vanilla pudding that you can't nail to the wall."

Martin Bauer, the public prosecutor who interviewed Ecclestone after Gribkowsky's arrest, added: "It was never really clear what form this threat could have taken."

Meanwhile, Ecclestone's lawyers argued that the F1 supremo should not be accused of bribing a public official, which carries a heftier penalty that normal.

"When you are standing by the side of a racetrack in Shanghai, you are not working as a civil servant any more," Reuters reports Ecclestone's lawyer Sven Thomas as having said of Gribkowsky's involvement.

Gribkowsky is expected to give evidence when the court is back in session next Friday.

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