Ecclestone may face probe for paying $27m `bribe`

Updated: Nov 19, 2011, 23:44 PM IST

London: Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone could be face a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) probe after admitting that he paid $27 million to a banker to stay silent on his financial affairs.

"The SFO is aware of the allegations against Mr Ecclestone and is liaising with the authorities in Germany to ascertain if there is a case in the UK to answer," the Daily Mail quoted a SFO spokesperson, as saying.

Ecclestone had earlier admitted that he paid a banker, Gerhard Gribkowsky, after he blackmailed to make false accusations against the former to the Inland Revenue about his tax affairs.

"I really did not have any alternative. I was under the impression he might have given some information to the Revenue in England which I did not know much about," Ecclestone had said.

His statement raised further questions about his business affairs, which have always been under wraps.

Gribkowsky is charged with receiving bribes, breaches of trust and tax evasion in Germany in connection with the 2005 sale of F1 shares by his former employer, the German bank BayernLB, to the London-based private equity group Citicorp Venture Capital, CVC.

Prosecuters claimed that 27 million pounds recovered from Gribkowsky`s bank account, was given to him by Ecclestone for being appointed as chief executive of the equity group after completion of the deal.

The Attorney General Dominic Grieve confirmed the involvement of the SFO to his Labour counterpart Emily Thornberry.

Bureau Report