• Gerhard Gribkowsky trial

Ecclestone faces allegations over bribes

ESPN Staff
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Bernie Ecclestone testified at the Gerhard Gribkowsky case last year © Getty Images

Bernie Ecclestone has hit back at allegations of bribery after German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky admitted to a German court this week that he received corrupt payments during the sale of Formula One.

Gribkowsky, the former risk officer of BayernLB who faces charges of tax evasion, breach of trust and being in receipt of corrupt payments, told the court on Wednesday that allegations he received £28 million in bribes during the sale of the F1 were "essentially true". Ecclestone has not been charged with any wrongdoing and during an appearance at the trial in November said he had made payments after he was "shaken down" by Gribkowsky, who Ecclestone says was threatening to go to UK tax authorities with false allegations over the way one of his family trusts was being run.

In November Ecclestone told the court: "It's something that went on for quite a long period. He was very sophisticated in the way he was shaking me down. I have been shaken down by other people but I must confess not quite as professionally as he did."

But Gribkowsky said Ecclestone had told him during a meeting in 2005 that "the practice in Formula One is that you scratch my back and I scratch yours". Ecclestone hit back on Wednesday, telling the Daily Telegraph that the fresh allegations are an attempt by Gribkowsky to shorten his sentence.

"I suppose he would say that [about receiving bribes], so maybe he gets seven years instead of 14 years," Ecclestone said. "The poor guy has been banged up for 18 months. He would have said anything to save himself. He was going to be locked up whatever happens."

A judgement is expected next week.