Bernie Ecclestone. Photo via Ryan Bayona under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.Enlarge Photo
Claims of bribery by prosecutors in Germany continue to haunt Bernie Ecclestone, with the allegations getting so serious that the British billionaire and Formula One figurehead was finally indicted last summer. The 83-year-old has since stepped down from the board of the company which runs F1, Delta Topco, though he will continue to run its day-to-day operations.
A German prosecutor filed the indictment over Ecclestone's dealings with banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, including a $44 million payment that the German authorities believe to have been a bribe. According to a report made by the BBC, Ecclestone admits to paying Gerhard Gribkowsky, but denies bribery. He will have to go to trial in Germany to face the allegations, but no court date has been set.
A statement from Delta Topco reads: “After discussion with the board, Mr. Ecclestone has proposed and the board has agreed that until the case has been concluded, he will step down as a director with immediate effect, thereby relinquishing his board duties and responsibilities until the case has been resolved.
"The board believes that it is in the best interests of both the F1 business and the sport that Mr. Ecclestone should continue to run the business on a day to day basis, but subject to increased monitoring and control by the board.
"Mr. Ecclestone has agreed to these arrangements."
The $44 million payment in question was made surrounding the sale of F1 to CVC Capital Partners (which owns Delta Topco) in 2005 as Ecclestone sought to acquire the shares held by Gribkowsky's bank, BayernLB. In 2012, Gribkowsky admitted to taking the money from Ecclestone and was found guilty of tax evasion and bribery, earning an eight-and-a-half-year prison sentence.
Stay tuned for an update.