Bernie Ecclestone’s defence got a boost on Tuesday, as the corruption trial continued in Munich.
If found guilty of having bribed the jailed former F1 banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, the sport’s chief executive will certainly lose his job, and probably also be jailed. But his defence – that Gribkowsky blackmailed him – got a boost on Tuesday. Central to the prosecution’s case is the suggestion that Ecclestone paid Gribkowsky $44 million so that his preferred buyer for F1’s commercial rights, CVC, got the green light. It is alleged that Ecclestone wanted CVC to buy BayernLB’s shares, because the Munich state bank holding onto them could endanger his role as F1 supremo.
But a former legal advisor to BayernLB on Tuesday testified in Munich, and the witness denied that the bank ever posed a threat to Ecclestone’s job. “I don’t think it ever arose that Ecclestone could be deposed,” German media reports quote the unnamed witness as saying. “I don’t even think it would have been possible,” the witness reportedly added.