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Bernie Ecclestone admits £27m secret payments
Horner (L) and Ecclestone
According to his own defense documents Mr. Ecclestone sent secret payments via third parties in Switzerland in order to disguise their source.

Mr. Ecclestone admits $44m (£27m) was paid by him and his family trust to German investment banker Gerhard Gribkowsky but denies it was a bribe. He claims it was the result of a subtle "shakedown" on him by Mr. Gribkowsky who was threatening to take unfounded allegations about him to the tax authorities.

Mr. Gribkowsky is facing criminal charges relating to the payments in Germany. In London Mr. Ecclestone, his family trust Bambino Holdings, his lawyer Stephen Mullens together with Mr. Gribkowsky are being sued in the civil courts.

The parties are accused by former owner of F1, Constantin Medien, of materially undervaluing the motorsport when it was sold to CVC Partners in 2005, in part through the payment of bribes.

As revealed by The Daily Telegraph Mr. Gribkowsky, who masterminded the sale of F1 to CVC, had a default judgment handed down against him earlier this week. Mr Ecclestone denies any unlawful conduct. His defense states: "There was no conspiracy, no fraud, no combination and no unlawful conduct".

The F1 boss says he made the multi-million pound payment to Mr. Gribkowsky after being threatened by the banker.

The document states: "Mr. Ecclestone did arrange for payments to be made to Mr. Gribkowsky. These payments were made in response to insinuations from Mr. Gribkowsky that he would create difficulties with the UK tax authorities with regard to the status and efficacy of the Bambino trust arrangements…. Mr. Ecclestone chose to pay Mr. Gribkowsky off rather than face the aggravation, delay and potential risks (however unqualified) that Mr. Gribkowsky threatened." The Telegraph

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