thursday, 8 november of 2012

Formula one awaits word on bribery probe

Bribery probe

Formula one awaits word on bribery probe

Prosecutors in Munich are expected to decide in the coming weeks whether to charge Formula One Group Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone with bribery, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Ali Haider/European Pressphoto AgencyThe decision, which has been anticipated for months, relates to $44 million Ecclestone paid to a banker in 2006-07. The banker, Gerhard Gribkowsky, who was the chief risk officer of German lender BayernLB, was sentenced in June to more than eight years in prison for taking the money.

An indictment of Ecclestone, who is 82 years old and known in Formula One as "Supremo," would likely force him out of the sport that the Journal described him as dominating as its owner, manager and public face.

Formula One's ties to major sponsors, teams and fans is being threatened by the possibility of an indictment of Ecclestone, according to the Journal report.

Ecclestone said last week he takes the allegations "very seriously," and is "absolutely" not guilty. He acknowledged making the payment, but has said he only did so because he was blackmailed by Gribkowsky.

Gribkowsky said in court the payment was a bribe for arranging the sale of his bank's stake in the sport to a buyer of Ecclestone's choosing.

Ecclestone's lawyers are stepping up their efforts to persuade prosecutors not to pursue an indictment, and he said he's offered to visit them to argue his case in person. Prosecutors, however, have said in court that they believe Ecclestone bribed Gribkowsky.

(Published by WSJ - November 6, 2012)

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