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Formula 1 boss Ecclestone bribery trial kicks off in Germany

25 April 2014 [15:43] - TODAY.AZ
He is accused of giving a $45m (£27.5m; 33m euros) bribe to a German banker to secure the sale of a stake in the F1 business to a company he favored.

Mr? Ecclestone admits paying Gerhard Gribkowsky, who is serving a jail sentence for receiving the payment, but has denied any wrongdoing.

He continues to run the F1 business on a day-to-day basis despite the charges.

To alleviate his workload, however, Mr Ecclestone has stood down from a number of F1-related positions until the case concludes.

Correspondents say that he appeared relaxed as he consulted with his lawyers on Thursday ahead of the proceedings.

Asked by a journalist outside the court whether he was confident of victory, he replied: "I'm confident the sun is shining."

German prosecutors allege that he bribed Mr Gribkowsky, who was on the board of Bayern Landesbank, to ensure that F1 was sold to a private equity group of Mr Ecclestone's choice.
The allegation is that by securing the sale of the stake to a company Mr Ecclestone favoured, he would remain in charge of Formula 1 and its commercial rights, broadcast payments and sponsorship deals.

The payments were made between July 2006 and December 2007.

He admits paying Gribkowsky, but says he was effectively the victim of blackmail. The 83-year-old Briton has said the banker had been threatening to reveal false details of his tax affairs.

If convicted, Mr Ecclestone - one of Britain's richest men who transformed Formula 1 into a lucrative sport watched by 450 million TV viewers globally - could face up to 10 years in jail.
Gerhard Gribkowsky has been found guilty of corruption, tax evasion and breach of trust and is serving an eight and a half year prison sentence.

Mr Ecclestone testified during Gribkowsky's trial in 2011, and the former German banker is expected to be the main witness during the F1 chief's trial, which is scheduled to last until September.

In February, Mr Ecclestone won a civil case in London's High Court brought by a German media company, which claimed it lost out financially when the share of F1 belonging to German bank Bayern Landesbank was sold in 2006 to private equity group CVC.


/AzerTAc/

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