News / Europe

F1 Chief Ecclestone Charged with Bribery

FILE - Formula One chief executive Bernie Ecclestone is seen after the qualifying session of the Monaco F1 Grand Prix, May 25, 2013.
FILE - Formula One chief executive Bernie Ecclestone is seen after the qualifying session of the Monaco F1 Grand Prix, May 25, 2013.
Reuters
Formula One's Ecclestone charged in German bribe case Formula One Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone has been charged with bribing a German banker to smooth the sale of a stake in the motor racing business to private equity firm CVC eight years ago.
 
Ecclestone, 82, has denied wrongdoing and will fight to clear his name. The case could mean a further delay to tentative plans to float Formula One on the stock market in Singapore and will revive speculation about an eventual successor to the man who turned the sport into a major global business.
 
An indictment has been translated into English and sent to Ecclestone's German lawyers, charging him with bribery and breach of trust, a Munich court spokesman said.
 
The case centers upon a $44 million payment to German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky in 2005 when BayernLB was selling a 48 percent stake in Formula One to CVC, a private equity investor that Ecclestone was keen to see as a new shareholder.
 
Gribkowsky, BayernLB's former chief risk officer, was  jailed last year for more than eight years for tax evasion and bribery after taking the payment from Ecclestone and failing to declare it to German tax authorities.
 
Ecclestone has denied that the payments to Gribkowsky amounted to bribes. Instead, he told a Munich court in November 2011 that he paid Gribkowsky to “keep him quiet” after the German put him under pressure over his tax affairs.
 
Ecclestone's lawyers said they would respond to the charges shortly.
 
“The main topic of the response will be the changing 'confessions' of Mr. Gribkowsky,” Duesseldorf-based law firm Thomas Deckers Wehnert Elsner said in an e-mailed statement.
 
The defense has until mid-August to submit its response. A decision about whether to proceed with a trial is not expected before mid-September, the court spokesman said.
 
Ecclestone remains central to the motor racing business he has been involved with for decades and the diminutive chief is a familiar figure at its races. He has always said he has no plans to retire and there is no obvious successor in place.
 
BayernLB had ended up with the Formula One stake following the bankruptcy of the media empire of Leo Kirch and the bank assigned Gribkowsky with the task of hiving it off.
 
BayernLB is seeking $400 million in damages from Ecclestone, claiming that the stake was not sold for full value.
 
CVC acquired a 63 percent stake in Formula One, but has since whittled that down to around 35 percent in a series of deals. U.S. investment groups BlackRock and Waddell & Reed, as well as Norway's Norges Bank Investment Management have bought into the business over the past year.
 
CVC said in a statement that the board of Delta Topco Limited (Formula One Group) had noted the developments in Munich and would continue to monitor the situation.

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs