Ecclestone denies bribery charges

Lawyers for Formula One Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone reiterated on Wednesday that he had not bribed a German banker during the 2005-2006 sale of a stake in the motor racing business, after a newspaper reported he had been charged by prosecutors.

German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported on Wednesday that prosecutors had charged the 82-year-old Briton, who has turned the sport into a global money maker over the past three decades, with bribery and inciting others to a fiduciary breach of trust.

"The documents with the charges from the Munich prosecutor's office have not yet been received by the defense," said German law firm Thomas Deckers Wehnert Elsner, acting for Ecclestone.

"Therefore, we cannot provide a statement. The defense sticks to its view that Mr. Ecclestone has neither committed bribery nor played any part in committing a fiduciary breach of trust," added the firm, based in the German city of Duesseldorf.

The Munich prosecutor's office declined to comment on the Sueddeutsche Zeitung report. On Monday, it said it had finished its investigation of Ecclestone, but declined to comment on what it might do next.

In an interview with German daily Bild-Zeitung, Ecclestone ruled out that he would resign as head of Formula One.

"The shareholders will have to make that decision. Once my contract with the company expires, they can replace me if they want," Ecclestone said, according to Bild, in a report due to be published on Thursday.

Bild also reported that Ecclestone denied the charges against him:

"I am innocent. The truth will prevail in the end."

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