London: Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone may come under the scanner for reportedly paying 44 million dollars in bribes to a German banker to help him keep control over the sport.
In return for his 44 million dollar bribe, Ecclestone is alleged to have received 41.4 million in commissions from the state-owned Bayerische Landes bank, and a further 25 million dollars in the F 1 chief’s family trust, Bambino Holdings.
Gerhard Gribkowsky, the accused German banker was the head of risk management at Bavarian bank BayernLB who overlooked Formula One's sale to private equity firm CVC Capital Partners in 2006, a daily reports.
It is unclear as to why Ecclestone would have bribed Gribkowsky, although one theory is that the German was battling in court for greater control of the sport in 2005 before BayernLB's sale of its stake. By selling his bank's shares to CVC, Ecclestone got promptly installed as the chief executive.
In a statement, Munich's state prosecutor alleged that the former chief risk officer at BayernLB sold the bank's 48 per cent stake in the sport without updating its valuation
“The payment was disguised by two fake consulting contracts with mailbox companies in Mauritius and the British Virgin Islands,” the prosecutor said.
“The accused did not pay tax on the funds in Germany even though he had unlimited tax liability there,” he added.
The prosecutor said that to compensate for these payments, Gribkowsky agreed on behalf of BayernLB to pay 41.4 million dollars to Ecclestone and 25 million to Bambino.
Gribkowsky has now been charged with corruption, embezzlement and tax evasion and under German law, a tribunal will now decide whether he will stand trial, the report said.
However, it remains unclear whether Ecclestone will be forced to stand trial either in Germany or Britain over the deal.
First Published: Wednesday, July 20, 2011, 16:17