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.
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

Isolation, Despair Weigh on Refugees in Remote German Camp

Refugees resettled near village of Holzdorf deep in German forestland say there is limited interaction with public, mutual feelings of distrust

Britons Divided Over Bombing IS

Surveys show Europeans generally support more military action against Islamic State militants, but sizable opposition exists in Britain

Russia Blacklists Soros Foundations as 'Undesirable'

Russian officials add Soros groups to a list of foreign and international organizations banned from giving grants to Russian partners

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs