Ecclestone in crisis as bribery affair develops

Fri, 22 June 2012, 08:35

Jun.22 (GMM) The reinvigorated F1 bribery affair has raised questions not only about the viability of the sport’s planned floatation, but about whether Bernie Ecclestone will lose his job or even face jail in Germany.

“Will Ecclestone go to Hockenheim?” the Die Welt newspaper, obviously musing a potential arrest now that former F1 banker Gerhard Gribkowsky has confirmed the F1 chief executive’s payments to him were indeed bribes, wondered.

Gribkowsky faces years in jail, and so the question now is whether the Munich prosecutors will also go after 81-year-old Ecclestone.

“I’ll wait and see how things develop,” the Briton told Welt. “Now I’m getting on with my job.”

Prosecutor spokesman Thomas Steinkraus-Koch told Bild newspaper: “Since 2011 an investigation of Bernie Ecclestone has been underway.

“For now we are now awaiting the court’s verdict in the trial of Gerhard Gribkowsky.”

That judgement is expected within days.

German lawyer Sewarion Kirkitadze told Bild that Ecclestone ultimately face a prison sentence of “up to ten years”.

“He should also expect the prosecutor to prepare an international arrest warrant and an extradition request.”

For all the trouble, which Ecclestone said is based on Gribkowsky’s new lies to “save himself”, the diminutive Briton is threatening to sue.

“We will see if I take action against Gribkowsky. It’s early days, let’s have a look,” Ecclestone is quoted as saying by the F1 business journalist Christian Sylt.

The F1 supremo, who insisted he is “not at all” worried the affair threatens his job or the F1 floatation, told Bloomberg news agency: “I don’t know what they (the prosecutors) would charge me for.”

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