German banker admits bribery in Ecclestone F1 case
A former German bank boss admitted on Wednesday receiving tens of millions of euros in bribes from Formula One mogul Bernie Ecclestone, breaking months of silence in the case.
In a shock move, Gerhard Gribkowsky told a court in Munich, southern Germany, that the charges against him were “essentially true”.
He stands accused of receiving nearly $44 million ($56 million) from Ecclestone in 2006 and 2007 in connection with the sale of Formula One rights to CVC, the private equity investor which owns most of the multi-billion-dollar sport.
At the time, Gribkowsky was the chief risk officer for the state-owned German bank BayernLB, which had acquired the rights to Formula One in 2002.
Gribkowsky was faced with 15 years behind bars if found guilty of the charges of corruption, tax evasion and embezzlement against him.
Presiding judge Peter Noll had promised a lighter sentence of between seven years and 10 months and nine years if he confessed.
Ecclestone faces no charges and denies having bribed Gribkowsky to make sure that Formula One was sold to CVC.
In testimony in November, the Briton told the court he had paid Gribkowsky because he had little alternative, indicating the German had threatened to blackmail him.
But Gribkowsky countered this version of events, saying Ecclestone had told him at a first meeting in May 2005 that “the practice in Formula One is that you scratch my back and I scratch yours”.
He said that Ecclestone had threatened to take Formula One business away from BayernLB.
A judgement in the case is expected next week.