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Ecclestone reminds us of his importance

NEWS STORY
10/03/2014

Bernie Ecclestone has likened himself to former Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson and suggested that Formula One's performance could crash without him at the wheel according to an article in the Sunday Express written by Christian Sylt.

In January Ecclestone stepped down from the board of F1's parent company Delta Topco following the announcement that he is due to be put on trial in Munich in April on bribery charges. As Pitpass has pointed out, his board exit doesn't change his power in F1 and he still runs the sport on a day to day basis. He says there is good reason why he is sticking around.

In a reference to the declining fortunes of Manchester United, following the retirement of Ferguson last year, Ecclestone says "I have got a sneaking feeling our board are probably football enthusiasts and saw what happened when they got rid of that guy from Manchester United."

His legal trouble has been sparked by a $44m payment made by him and his Bambino family trust to Gerhard Gribkowsky a former banker for German lender BayernLB.

Gribkowsky was responsible for selling BayernLB's 47.2% stake in F1 in 2006 and German prosecutors believe that the $44m payment to him was a bribe to steer the sale to the private equity firm CVC as it had agreed to keep Ecclestone in the sport's driving seat.

Ecclestone denies paying a bribe and says Gribkowsky threatened to make false allegations about his tax affairs to H.M. Revenue & Customs if he didn't get the $44m.

Last month he won a related civil case in London's High Court in which he was accused of undervaluing F1 through the alleged bribe because other bidders may have paid more than CVC. Although Ecclestone won, the judge, Mr Justice Newey, ruled that "the payments were a bribe...Mr Ecclestone's aim was to be rid of the Banks. He was strongly averse to their involvement in the Formula One group and was keen that their shares should be transferred to someone more congenial to him."

Mr Newey added "I am afraid that I find it impossible to regard him as a reliable or truthful witness."

Ecclestone says the judgement contains numerous inconsistencies. The judge said he disliked the banks so much that he paid a bribe to get rid of them yet two of them are still shareholders as they reinvested after CVC took control of F1.

BayernLB had the same opportunity and Ecclestone says "Gribkowsky wanted to get them to reinvest." It reflects comments made by the judge who said that "BayernLB also had the chance to reinvest, but chose not to take it, and the evidence indicates that this was a decision taken against Dr Gribkowsky's wishes rather than because of them." If Gribkowsky was paid a bribe to get rid of BayernLB then it raises the question of why he wanted the bank to reinvest. It will all come out in the trial.

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1. Posted by Jonno, 10/03/2014 21:15 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 10/03/2014 22:27)

"This comment was removed by an administrator as it was judged to have broken the site's posting rules and etiquette."

Rating: Neutral (0)

2. Posted by Burton, 10/03/2014 19:35

"He's his own wallet's Alex Ferguson..."

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3. Posted by r11co, 10/03/2014 19:26

"Is Christian Sylt on Bernie's payroll or does he have a crush on him? The article does not justify the headline as it is one new quote (and an inaccurate* off-the-cuff remark at that) and a lot of regurgitated information. All so that Mr Sylt can once again tug at that forelock. It is starting to get nauseating.

*Manchester United did not 'get rid' of Alex Ferguson. He voluntarily retired."

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