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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
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 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 US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of 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 Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
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.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs