Ecclestone could be forced out of office by bribery case
By Berthold Bouman
FOM CEO Bernie Ecclestone admitted he could be forced out of office by the Gribkowsky bribery scandal, the Formula One boss allegedly paid the German banker a $44 million bribe for the sale of the BayernLB bank’s Formula One shares to investment company CVC in 2005.
Gerhard Gribkowsky was arrested in January 2011 and in June of this year he was sentenced to eight and a half-year imprisonment for tax evasion, bribery and breach of trust.
Ecclestone has admitted he paid the German banker, but stated in court that Gribkowsky was blackmailing him as he threatened to reveal his tax affairs to the HRMC. He therefore paid the $44 million to the German who was the former Chief Risk Officer of the BayerLB bank.
There have been speculations Ecclestone could be charged with bribery as well, but the Germans are still investigating the matter. If that happens, according to Ecclestone, the investment company CVC ‘will probably be forced to get rid of me if the Germans come after me. It’s pretty obvious, if I’m locked up’.
Earlier this year plans for a $10 billion floatation of Formula One were shelved by CVC as they were afraid the bribery case could have a negative effect on the floatation.
During the annual Christmas dinner with the press, Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo already hinted that Ecclestone should leave, “If Bernie is accused under process, I think he will be the first to give a step back in the interests of Formula One.”
And he added, “The era of the one-man show cannot continue. We are slowly approaching the end of a period characterised by the style of one man who has done significant things.”
In a report in the UK Telegraph, Ecclestone admitted CVC is searching for a replacement, “They said they had hired a head-hunter to find somebody in the event that I was not going to be there — if I was going to die or something. It is the normal thing they do to keep people happy.”