Probe could end Ecclestone’s F1 reign

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iol spt dec30 Ecclestone AFP Bernie Ecclestone.

London – Bernie Ecclestone said in a news report published on Sunday that he will likely have to step down as Formula One boss after almost four decades if he is charged by German prosecutors in a corruption case.

Ecclestone, 82, told the Sunday Telegraph that F1 owners 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.”

Munich prosecutors are investigating a 44-million-dollar payment Ecclestone made to a German banker in connection with the sale of a controlling stake in F1 from a German bank to CVC. They are expected to say in January whether Ecclestone will be charged.

The authorities believe that Ecclestone's payment to the banker, Gerhard Gribkowski, was a bribe to ensure that the bank, Bayerische Landesbank, sold its stake to CVC in 2005.

Gribkowsky was jailed in summer. Ecclestone said he paid the money to stop the banker from false allegations about his tax affairs.

Ecclestone has been at the helm of F1 for almost four decades and has turned it into a multi-million dollar business.

He also told the Sunday Telegraph that CVC doesn't want to drop him for now although they have engaged a head hunter to look for possible replacements.

“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,” he said. – Sapa-dpa


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