Bernie Ecclestone has denied suggestions he will not risk travelling to Germany next month. Bild newspaper indicated recently the F1 chief executive might skip the race after this weekend's British grand prix for risk of arrest. Speculation is ramping up that Ecclestone, 81, will be charged for bribery, after former F1 banker Gerhard Gribkowsky was convicted and jailed last week for receiving the payments from the Briton.
"The only thing I did wrong is that I personally paid him ten million pounds", Ecclestone told the German newsmagazine Focus, explaining the money was paid because Gribkowsky was threatening to cause trouble with his British tax affairs. But what about the risk of arrest in Germany? "Of course I'm going to Hockenheim," Ecclestone insisted.
Time will tell what the next step will be, given the Munich court's depiction last week of Ecclestone as the "driving force" of Gribkowsky's corruption. "The prosecutors' attitude has been quite aggressive in the last couple of days," an unnamed person close to Ecclestone told the Financial Times. Are charges likely? "No idea," Briton Ecclestone insisted.
The publication suggested Ecclestone may be suspended as F1's chief executive by owners CVC if he is charged. "What we ought to do is wait and see, shouldn't we?" Ecclestone said. CVC declined to comment. (GMM)