Bernie Ecclestone’s bribery trial begins on Thursday.
It could be the final lap in a long and lucrative career for the 83-year-old Briton, as two courts have already found that he did indeed bribe the already-jailed former F1 banker Gerhard Gribkowsky. The criminal trial in Germany could see Ecclestone also out of a job and in jail. In the indictment papers, he is accused of paying $44 million to “win over” Gribkowsky, who has already been convicted in the same jurisdiction for receiving the bribes.
According to F1 business journalist Christian Sylt, quoting from the indictment, Ecclestone offered Gribkowsky “personal gain” in exchange for dispensing “with BayernLB as a formula one shareholder as quickly as possible.” Writing in the Guardian, Sylt said Ecclestone is not commenting this week. “It doesn’t look terribly good for him,” Sylvia Schenk, a senior sports lawyer for the anti-corruption agency Transparency International, told Bloomberg. “Under a compliance point of view you have to remember that Ecclestone has already admitted paying the $44 million to Gribkowsky, and for reasons which don’t seem to be really kosher,” she said. “It’s not exactly an exhibit of integrity. But the justice system still needs to prove his individual responsibility.”