The German media has ramped up its efforts to implicate F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone in the ongoing bribery and corruption scandal regarding the sale of the sport's commercial rights five years ago.
Earlier this month, Gerhard Gribkowsky – a German banker who was formerly the head of F1 holding company SLEC – was arrested on suspicion of corruption, tax fraud, bribery and breach of trust after 'two consultancy contracts totalling $50 million' appeared in two of his accounts in Austria [see separate story – click here
Gribkowsky was one of the architects of the deal in which F1 shares were sold from the bank BayernLB – which he represented – to CVC Capital Partners, the sport's current majority owners. Reports in Germany have since alleged that the $50 million came from one of Ecclestone's companies in the form of a bribe – an accusation that the British billionaire has rubbished and vowed to 'fight in the courts' if necessary. CVC has similarly denied all knowledge of the payment.
Now, however, German news-magazine Stern
has linked the transaction to a company called Petara – a word formulated by combining the names of Ecclestone's two daughters Tamara and Petra. The Suddeutsche Zeitung (SZ)
newspaper has moreover alluded to 'concrete evidence' to substantiate such claims, in the form of a confidential letter to Ecclestone dated 14 December, 2007 from Austrian company GREP GmbH – which received most of the $50 million – demanding a missing instalment of $2.3 million in addition to late-payment penalties.
The author of the letter was said to be a lawyer working for Gribkowsky, and the receipt of it reportedly 'outraged' Ecclestone, who continues to deny all involvement in the salacious affair.