Ecclestone alleges extortion in bribery saga - report

By on Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Apr.26 (GMM) Bernie Ecclestone is reportedly no longer denying he paid millions to jailed German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky.

The German weekly newsmagazine Focus claims the F1 chief executive, accused by Munich prosecutors of aiding and abetting a breach of trust, has alleged Gribkowsky blackmailed him to the tune of $40 million as he oversaw the sale of the sport to current owner CVC.

The report said Ecclestone made the accusation of extortion, which if proved could result in the return of the payment to the 80-year-old, in the form of official testimony.

It is believed Gribkowsky threatened Ecclestone with the divulgence of sensitive information regarding the structure of his businesses.

Austria's Salzburger Nachrichten said Ecclestone may be electing to cooperate with authorities now in the hope of receiving a lighter penalty in the event any wrongdoing is found.

Fascinatingly, the development coincides with reports that Rupert Murdoch and Carlos Slim are moving to buy F1, and a rare admission by Ecclestone that he might retire if he thinks he cannot work with them.

"I'm old enough to get a pension, so I don't have to get a job," he told the Sunday Times.

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