Ecclestone “indicted” in Gribkowsky bribe case (4th Update)

UPDATE #4 Bernie's bizarre 360 degree spin through a door that we linked to below:

11/07/13 Bernie Ecclestone was accused of "fabricating" evidence on Wednesday on a tense first day of cross-examination in his £100 million damages lawsuit in the High Court.

Formula One's 83-year-old chief executive is defending a claim brought by German media firm Constantin Medien who accuse Ecclestone and three other defendants of deliberately undervaluing Formula One in the 2005 sale of the sport to CVC Capital Partners.

Constantin Medien, a former shareholder in F1, stood to gain a hefty commission from any sale that valued the sport at over $1bn (£620 million).

The company believes Ecclestone paid bribes amounting to $44 million (£27 million) to German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky who facilitated the sale of his bank's shares to CVC at a knockdown price, CVC having agreed to retain Ecclestone as CEO.

While there was little new in Wednesday's evidence, the day was intriguing for the sparring between Ecclestone and Philip Marshall QC, representing Constantin Medien. London Telegraph

11/07/13 Watch Ecclestone's bizarre high court entrance. It appeared he wanted to say something, but never really did.


Ecclestone defended himself strongly

Bernie Ecclestone defended himself Wednesday at the High Court in London against allegations he made a “corrupt" payment to protect his position running Formula One.

Former F1 shareholder Constantin Medien, a German media company, is suing Ecclestone and other defendants for up to $144 million, claiming F1 was undervalued at the time the BayernLB bank sold its stake.

Ecclestone is accused of making a “corrupt bargain" with BayernLB’s Gerhard Gribkowsky, paying $44 million to ensure the bank’s 47 percent stake was sold in 2005 to a buyer of Ecclestone’s choosing, investment group CVC Capital Partners.

In the second week of the civil trial, the 83-year-old Ecclestone gave evidence for the first time in person on Wednesday and disputed giving conflicting statements after the payment emerged in 2011.

“I paid [Gribkowsky] because I said I was being ‘shaken down,’" Ecclestone said, later adding, “I wasn’t prepared to take the risk."

Claiming he never made any secret of the payment, Ecclestone said he gave Gribkowsky 10 million pounds [now $16 million] because he was threatened by the banker that his tax arrangements could be reported to the British authorities.

“He inferred he could and probably would, I’m not sure [he didn’t]," Ecclestone said. “I have a massive tax inquiry at the moment."

No further detail of that inquiry was provided.

Ecclestone’s legal team maintains that a “consultancy package" was paid to Gribkowsky, who has already been jailed in Germany for 8½ years for taking the payment. A German court is still deciding whether Ecclestone will stand trial on charges of bribery and incitement to breach of trust.

Under cross-examination in London, Ecclestone said he finds it easier to pay someone off when threatened rather than reporting blackmail attempts to the police.

Ecclestone said that would be the case if he was blackmailed over an affair.

Ecclestone, who spoke quietly and often banged the desk as he grew increasingly frustrated with questioning, claimed one of his daughters this week paid someone off “who made up some rubbish" to end the matter. AP Article

11/04/13 A German court’s two-year investigation into whether Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone bribed a banker during the 2006 sale of the sport to CVC Capital Partners may finally be coming to a head.

Ecclestone told the Financial Times on Wednesday he had received an indictment. “It’s a pity it’s happened," he said, adding he would “defend it properly".

He plans to contest the charges, raising the prospect of another lengthy court battle. The relevant documents are currently being translated into English.

Gribkowsky was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in prison last year following a nine-month trial during which Ecclestone admitted making payments to him. “He was shaking me down and I didn’t want to take a risk," Ecclestone said at the time.

The threat of legal proceedings will be unwelcome for CVC, who are planning to float Formula One on the Singapore stock exchange. It is targeting a value of over $10 billion for the sport. An earlier attempt at an initial public offering was abandoned due to unfavorable economic conditions in Europe.

At the end of the year Ecclestone admitted CVC “will probably be forced to get rid of me" if he were to face charges over the bribery allegations.

Ecclestone also faces charges in the UK that some F1 rights were sold at below their true value.

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