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Trial begins of German banker in Formula One bribery case

Bernie Ecclestone is once more in the eye of the storm.
Monday, October 24, 2011

MUNICH, Germany, Oct 24, 2011 (AFP) - The trial of a German former banker accused of receiving bribes worth tens of millions of euros from Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone started in Munich on Monday.

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Gerhard Gribkowsky, 53, appeared in court in the south German city accused of corruption, tax evasion and embezzlement.

He is alleged to have received nearly $44 million (31.8 million euros) from Ecclestone in 2006 and 2007 in connection with the sale of Formula One rights to CVC, the private equity investor which owns most of the multi
billion-dollar sport.

At the time, Gribkowsky was the chief risk officer for the state-owned German bank BayernLB, which had acquired the rights to Formula One in 2002.

The sale of Formula One's rights to CVC was crucial to Ecclestone as the British investor fund wanted to retain him as the head of the sport.

Prosecutors allege the financial arrangements between the two men caused damages to the bank worth $66.5 million (48.5 million euros).

The banker has been held in custody since January and his assets have been frozen.

No fewer than 26 hearings are planned with the trial set to run until early next year and nearly 40 witnesses are set to appear, including Ecclestone on November 9 and 10.

The Formula One chief is also the subject of a separate investigation into breach of trust.

In July, the Mr Ecclestone acknowledged in an interview that he paid money to Mr Gribkowsky, but claimed to have done so for fear of blackmail.

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