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2014-05-04 10:29

'WHO, ME...?' Bernie Ecclestone (right) with his lawyers Sven Thomas (centre) and Norbert Scharf on May 2 2014, the second day of his trial in Munich, Germany. Image: AFP/Christof Stache

MUNICH, Germany - Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone was back in a German court on Friday (May 2 2014) where he's charged with bribery.

Witnesses began testifying in the trial in which the Briton is accused of paying a German banker $44-million to ensure his F1 motor racing business was sold to the now 83-year-old's preferred buyer.

Ecclestone appeared calm and collected during the second day of his trial in which he has admitted paying banker Gerhard Gribkowsky but denies wrongdoing - he claims Gribkowsky threatened to make false statements about his tax affairs to the British authorities.


Munich prosecutor Christian Weiss, however, told the court again on Friday that Ecclestone paid Gribkowsky because he was scared of losing control of the motor racing business he had built up over 40 years.

Public prosecutor Martin Bauer who interviewed Ecclestone after Gribkowsky's arrest in 2011, also appearing as a witness, said the nature of the threat had not been clear.

"It was all very vague - like a vanilla pudding you cannot nail to the wall," Bauer told the court. Ecclestone's lawyer Sven Thomas hit back, saying it was doubtful whether Gribkowsky could be considered a public official under the criminal code when he received the payment from Ecclestone.

Bribery of a public official in Germany can attract a maximum sentence of 10 years; it's only five in a business transaction.

Gribkowsky is expected to be called as a witness at some point during the trial. He ws jailed for eight-and-a-half years in 2012 for tax evasion and corruption after accepting Ecclestone's money.

The court has set aside 26 hearing days through to September 16 2014.
Read more on:    gerhard gribkowsky  |  germany  |  munich

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