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F1's Ecclestone 'faces German bribery charges'

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Photo: DPA
10:46 CEST+02:00
British Formula One mogul Bernie Ecclestone might soon find himself in front of a Munich court, as it emerged on Tuesday that bribery charges are apparently due to be filed against him before the end of the month.

Ecclestone is suspected of giving a $44 million bribe to top German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, jailed ex-chairman of BayernLB bank, which was once the majority shareholder in Formula One. Authorities have been looking into the claims for the past two years.

The investigation is, the Süddeutsche Zeitung daily found out, now complete and a Munich court is gearing up to file charges against 83-year-old Ecclestone. They could be in place even by the end of this week or, at the latest, by the end of the month.

Ecclestone claims that he gave Gribkowsky money because he was being blackmailed. His lawyers are expected to use this argument to try and prevent the court bringing the charges to trial.

If judges do decide that the charges warrant trial, it looks unlikely that Ecclestone will appear in court before the autumn, if only because everything has to be translated into English for his legal team.

The next time Ecclestone will visit Germany is for the Formula One race at the Nürburgring track, in July. It remains unclear whether he will step down from his role, Süddeutsche Zeitung said. This may become more clear as the case progresses.

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The Local/jcw

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