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Ecclestone admits to buying Gribkowsky's silence

NEWS STORY
10/11/2011

Speaking at the trial of former BayernLB banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, Bernie Ecclestone has admitted paying 27.5m in order to keep the German's silence.

The admission, first told to Pitpass business editor Chris Sylt in July, two days after Gribkowsky was charged with breach of trust, tax evasion and having been in receipt of corrupt payments, relates to the F1 supremo's fear that the German would give the British tax authorities information about him, and in particular the family trust (Bambino), even though the Englishman insists that all is above board.

"I had no alternative at the time," Ecclestone told the Munich court. "The only alternative was that the British tax authorities followed a case that would have been very expensive for me.

"The tax risk would have exceeded two billion pounds," he added. "I paid him to keep calm and not to do silly things. I knew he wanted to start a business.

"It would have been a disaster for me," he continued. "It was risk I could not afford to take. "I thought that if he gets upset with me, he might do something quite vindictive. I thought if I give him the money, it might help to keep him quiet and peaceful."

Ecclestone, who has been granted immunity from prosecution for his testimony but not for his role in the affair, admitted: "This was constantly at the back of my mind and I could not take that risk.

"The onus would have been on me to prove that I was innocent," he continued, referring to what might have happened had Gribkowsky carried out his threat and gone to the tax authorities. "It would have been a disaster. It was always my thought that this could happen. It was a risk I was could not afford to take."

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