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DATE News (chronologically)
Ecclestone alleges extortion in bribery saga UPDATE
Ecclestone: Yeah he ripped me off
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone is reportedly no longer denying he paid millions to jailed German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky.

The German weekly newsmagazine Focus claims the F1 chief executive, accused by Munich prosecutors of aiding and abetting a breach of trust, has alleged Gribkowsky blackmailed him to the tune of $40 million as he oversaw the sale of the sport to current owner CVC.

The report said Ecclestone made the accusation of extortion, which if proved could result in the return of the payment to the 80-year-old, in the form of official testimony.

It is believed Gribkowsky threatened Ecclestone with the divulgence of sensitive information regarding the structure of his businesses.

Austria's Salzburger Nachrichten said Ecclestone may be electing to cooperate with authorities now in the hope of receiving a lighter penalty in the event any wrongdoing is found.

Fascinatingly, the development coincides with reports that Rupert Murdoch and Carlos Slim are moving to buy F1, and a rare admission by Ecclestone that he might retire if he thinks he cannot work with them.

"I'm old enough to get a pension, so I don't have to get a job," he told the Sunday Times.

04/17/11 (GMM)  Munich prosecutors may suspect Bernie Ecclestone got involved in the Gribkowsky corruption affair in order to safeguard his top job in F1, according to a newspaper report.

Having apparently skipped the Chinese grand prix, the F1 chief executive issued a statement this weekend confirming he was recently in Germany to answer suspicions of his involvement in the mysterious $50m payment to a banker.

Dr Gerhard Gribkowsky was intricately involved in BayernLB's decision to sell its stake in F1's commercial rights to the sport's current owner CVC.

"It is unclear why Ecclestone would have to do that (pay a bribe)," wrote Hans Leyendecker, Klaus Ott and Nicolas Richter in a detailed report in the Sueddeutsche newspaper.

"Perhaps it was to stay in charge of the (F1) series," they speculate.

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