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Ecclestone regrets paying $44m to jailed banker

NEWS STORY
17/03/2014

Bernie Ecclestone has revealed that he regrets making a $44m payment, which German prosecutors believe was a bribe, according to an article in the Express by Christian Sylt.

The payment was made by Ecclestone and his family's Bambino trust to Gerhard Gribkowsky, former chief risk officer at German bank BayernLB. Gribkowsky was responsible for selling BayernLB's 47.2% stake in F1 in 2006 and German prosecutors believe he was bribed to sell to the private equity firm CVC as it had agreed to retain Ecclestone as the sport's chief executive.

In 2012 Gribkowsky was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison in Munich for receiving the alleged bribe and next month Ecclestone is due to be put on trial for paying it. Since last year Gribkowsky has been let out of prison on a daily basis to work in a managerial role in a construction firm and, according to one source, he was recently spotted waiting for a train to the German city of Cologne.

Ecclestone denies paying a bribe and claims that Gribkowsky threatened to tell the UK's Inland Revenue that he controlled Bambino if the $44m was not paid.

Bambino is based offshore whereas Ecclestone is a UK resident so he would be liable to pay tax on the $4bn in the trust if he was found to be in control of it which he strongly denies. He says he paid Gribkowsky even though the allegation was false as it could have triggered a lengthy and costly investigation if it had been reported to the Inland Revenue.

"I regret paying him," says Ecclestone. "I should have let him write the letter to the Revenue and let the Revenue try to prove what he said. It's a wonderful thing hindsight."

He adds that the German prosecutors believe "that I bribed him to breach his fiduciary duty. His fiduciary duty was to do the best things he could for the bank so I say that's what he did because he sold the shares which he was told he had to. The board said 'sell.'"

The shares were indeed sold and next month a German judge will begin the task of deciding whether anything irregular took place. Ecclestone has already shrugged off two cases connected to the sale and now he needs to do it one more time.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by gormsen, 20/03/2014 13:36

"The time has come for this evil gnome of a man to pack up and go ! "

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2. Posted by Skidmarks, 19/03/2014 15:43

"I don't believe that Bernie has ever admitted to paying a bribe, just admitted that he made a payment. not the same thing. "

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3. Posted by francis-n, 18/03/2014 21:53

"This case will outlast Bernie's lifetime. I'm sure he is worried - not! It's a game for him and he's far cleverer than any of his opponents. Got to admire him!"

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4. Posted by Spindoctor, 18/03/2014 12:52

"I've never really cottoned-on to how Bernie has not merely "admitted", but actively embraced having paid a bribe to prevent the Inland Revenue from discovering details of his tax-evading shenanigans, yet appears not to be under any kind of investigation for the alleged improprieties.

I know that HMRC are not the sharpest tools in the toolbox, but it follows logically that IF Bernie paid-out £44 million to prevent them discovering something, there out to be something worth discovering. Yet HMRC seems strangely quiet about the whole business....

On the other hand if HMRC believed Bernie's story, and investigated his affairs, and found nothing amiss, it rather undermines Bernie's story that the alleged bribe was to prevent HMRC from finding-out about his tax arrangements.

To my untrained mind this appears to be an inescapable double-whammy! Logically one of the above scenarios MUST be true, given what we have been told, and which ever it is there's a strong prima facia case against Mr Ecclestone...."

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5. Posted by TokyoAussie, 18/03/2014 3:19

"One point that always stank about this affair is how the Trust knew to make payments to Gribkowsky, back door or otherwise, if Bernie has no control of the Trust. If he can get the Trust to dole out however many million on a whim, what more control is there to be had?"

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6. Posted by rich, 17/03/2014 14:08

"Wow, this is really strange, surprised that Bernie is allowed to make quotable statements. Or that info from other trials can be made public record and then possibly used against him. His argument is rather strange as ownership of the trust will be revealed and he could then be charged with lying to several courts."

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