Bernie to be charged for bribery?

2012-07-20 07:20

German prosecutors are gathering evidence with a view to indicting Bernie Ecclestone, the commercial head of Formula 1, for bribery, two Munich newspapers were set to report on Friday, July 20.

The 81-year-old British multi-millionaire has said he will attend the weekend's German Grand Prix at Hockenheim. Bribery is a serious charge in Germany for which suspects are usually arrested.

Ecclestone testified in 2011 at the trial of German bank executive Gerhard Gribkowsky who was convicted of accepting a $44-million backhander from the racing boss. The Briton insisted on his innocence, saying he paid the sum under duress, not as a bribe.

The two newspapers, Sueddeutsche Zeitung and Muenchner Merkur, reported that prosecutors had obtained extensive, incriminating evidence against Ecclestone from an eight-hour interview with Gribkowsky.

Prosecutors declined to comment to news agency dpa on the newspapers' account.

At trial, Gribkowsky admitted taking a bribe. Prosecutors said Ecclestone used the inducement to ensure that Gribkowsky's employer, a German bank, sold control of F1 to a company that Ecclestone preferred.

Gribkowsky was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison but is appealing.