Bernie Ecclestone reminded the F1 fraternity last week that he is an unflappable poker player and not a man to be intimidated into being backed into a corner.
On arriving at the Nurburgring for last weekend’s German Grand Prix, he shrugged aside allegations made by a German prosecutor last week to the effect that he was involved in paying £27m in bribes to a Munich-based banking executive relating to the sale of F1 rights in 2006, firmly insisting that he had nothing to hide.
Ecclestone made it clear that he coughed up the money only because Gerhard Gribkowsky, the banker who sold Bayern Landesbank’s shares in F1 to CVC Capital Partners, threatened to cause trouble for him with the Inland Revenue.
In a statement published last week, the Munich state prosecutor alleged that Gribkowsky, formerly the chief risk officer at Bayern LB, sold the bank’s 48 per cent interest in F1 without properly updating its valuation. In return, it was alleged that Gribkowsky received payments, disguised as remuneration for consulting contracts with companies in Mauritius and the British Virgin Islands.
“I have nothing to hide,” Bernie told the Daily Telegraph. He also added that he would have no problem whatsoever if he is forced to testify at Gribkowsky’s trial, whenever that should eventually take place.
CVC, for their part, have so far made no comment on this contentious issue.