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Ecclestone rubbishes accusations of $50 million bribe

F1 commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone has responded to claims that he was involved in an alleged $50 million bribe paid to German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky by describing them as 'absolute nonsense'
Bernie Ecclestone has rubbished as 'absolute nonsense' accusations in the German media that he paid a $50 million bribe to Gerhard Gribkowsky, a banker who was formerly the head of F1 holding company SLEC but who was recently arrested on suspicion of corruption, tax fraud, bribery and breach of trust.

The investigation revolves around a deal five years ago in which F1 shares were sold from the bank BayernLB – represented by Gribkowsky – to CVC Capital Partners, the sport's current majority owners, and specifically 'two consultancy contracts totalling $50 million' that subsequently appeared in two accounts of Gribkowsky's in Austria.

CVC has already issued a statement denying all knowledge of the payment [see separate story – click here], and now the sport's influential commercial rights-holder and Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive Ecclestone has responded to claims in German newspapers that the money came from his company in the form of a bribe, insisting he has no offshore bank accounts in either Mauritius or the Virgin Islands.

“What the German newspapers speculate or the prosecutors suspect is false,” the 80-year-old British billionaire told Bild-Zeitung newspaper, conceding that whilst he knows Gribkowsky, he has 'nothing to do with these payments'. “It's absolute nonsense; I don't even know why I would have given him money.

“I don't know how he got it. As a member of the board of (F1 holding company) Delta Topco, he received only a small salary. I know, because I was the CEO. You should ask the banks involved who might have paid him – and if CVC says it has nothing to do with the payments, you can be absolutely sure they are telling the truth, I assure you.

“If German newspapers are writing that I have something to do with it, that's absolute nonsense and if necessary I will fight it in the courts.”

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Robbo - Unregistered

January 10, 2011 1:56 PM

Somebody paid it. Who had an incentive or motive to pay? I can only think of one or two possibilities. Gribkowsky knows, but is he going to say? Maybe there is something more in it for him if he keeps quiet even if he does have to spend a bit of time in striped pyjamas. Bernie, I think you should have ignored the speculation in the German press. You may be accused of protesting too much.

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