May 20 (GMM/Inautonews.com) F1’s owners have voted to keep Bernie Ecclestone at the helm of the sport, despite reports German prosecutors have decided to charge him with bribery.
The bribery case surrounds a payment of $44 million to now-jailed German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky some years ago, and suspicions the 82-year-old Briton wanted CVC to buy the sport’s commercial rights because he would be retained as chief executive.
Ecclestone, however, argues that Gribkowsky simply blackmailed him, threatening to reveal potentially costly secrets about his tax affairs.
And he told the Sunday Times newspaper that, at the end of last week in Geneva, CVC chiefs met to discuss the ramifications of the German charges.
“Everyone voted to support me staying on and running the business,” said Ecclestone.
“The board agrees I should stay unless I’m convicted.”
He dismissed the German charges as “a complete load of rubbish”.
Ecclestone, however, told F1 business journalist Christian Sylt that, despite not actually receiving the charge sheet yet, he does expect the German prosecutors to proceed.
“I hope they don’t but I think they will,” he said in the Guardian. “Then we will see what happens. That doesn’t mean to say there will be a trial.”
Indeed, Reuters news agency reported several days ago that prosecutors could settle the case with Ecclestone in exchange for a “non-penal payment”.