Bernie safe for now in F1

2013-05-20 12:53

LONDON, England - F1's owners have voted to keep Bernie Ecclestone at the helm of the sport, despite reports German prosecutors have decided to charge him with bribery.

The case involves a payment some years ago of the equivalent of about R413-million to now-jailed German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky and suspicion that 82-year-old Briton Ecclestone wanted CVC, a private-equity investor, to buy the sport's commercial rights because he would stay as chief executive.


Ecclestone, however, argues that Gribkowsky simply blackmailed him, threatening to reveal potentially costly secrets about his tax affairs. He told the British Sunday Times newspaper that CVC chiefs met to discuss the ramifications of the German charges.

"Everybody voted to support me staying on and running the business," Ecclestone said. "The board agrees I should stay unless I'm convicted."

He dismissed the German charges as "a complete load of rubbish" but did, however, tell F1 business journalist Christian Sylt that, despite not actually having the charge sheet yet, he does expect the German prosecutors to proceed.

"I hope they don't but I think they will," he said. "Then we will see what happens. That doesn't mean to say there will be a trial."

Reuters reported several days ago that prosecutors could settle the case with Ecclestone in exchange for "a non-penal payment".

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