Formula One Chief Charged in German Bribery Probe

Bernie Ecclestone accused of bribing bank officials to sell stake in Formula One racing

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Bernie Ecclestone, the CEO of Formula One, was charged Thursday in a bribery probe related to the sale of a German bank’s stake in the motor racing franchise.

The German bribery investigation focused on the sale of Germany’s Bayerische Landesbank’s 47 percent stake in Formula One to CVC, a U.K.-based buyout firm, in 2005. Gerhard Gribkowsky, former BayernLB chief risk officer, was convicted in 2012 of taking $44 million in bribes from Ecclestone to steer the sale, and he was sentenced to 8 1/2 years in prison.

In 2011, Ecclestone told a Munich court he was the victim of a sophisticated shakedown and bribed Gribkowsky to prevent the banker from telling U.K. tax authorities about a family trust controlled by his wife. He is also awaiting a verdict in a U.K. civil trial relating to the alleged bribery.

Ecclestone, 83, is set to stand trial in Munich in late April. Britain’s Daily Telegraph reports that he will remain in charge of Formula One’s day-to-day operations, but will step down as from the board of CVC until the trial concludes.