Adapted from The Stars Hollow Gazette
I’d never impugn Bernie except on the flimsiest of motives. He’d never cheat a company of its assets by bribing a banker to sell them under market and structure the deal so the bank paid the bribe and Bernie got to put a $ million or three in his pocket for his trouble.
That would be unethical.
So we’ve been following the Gerhard Gribkowsky case since August 2011.
As you may recall it’s alledged that Bernie Ecclestone paid Gerhard a bribe of $44 Million so that the sale of the Kirsh Group’s interest in Formula One was not only below market value, but also so they would not participate in any profit sharing. Bernie’s counter-contention was that it was merely an extortion payment to hide the fact that he and his wife were evading $3.2 BILLION in taxes on the family trust fund.
Well, Wednesday Gribkowsky admitted accepting the bribe in Court-
Ex-BayernLB Banker Admits Taking Bribe on Formula 1 Sale
By Karin Matussek, Business Week
June 20, 2012
Gribkowsky told the Munich Regional Court today the indictment against him was “in most parts” correct. He made his declaration after closed chamber negotiations between the court, prosecutors, and his defense lawyers. In exchange for his confession, the judges informally agreed Gribkowsky would get a prison term of 7 years and 10 months to 9 years, Presiding Judge Peter Noll said at the hearing.
Prosecutors last year charged Gribkowsky, who managed Munich-based BayernLB’s interest in Formula One, with accepting bribes, breach of trust and tax evasion. They claim he received $44 million in bribes to steer the sale of the bank’s 47 percent stake in the racing circuit to CVC, a U.K.-based buyout firm, and also agreed to a sham contract under which Ecclestone received a kickback. Until today, Gribkowsky denied the claims.
“It took me a long time to come to terms with what I have done and to admit even to myself: Yes, it was bribery and yes, I should have paid tax,” Gribkowsky said in his first comments to the court since the trial began in October. “Still today I have troubles accepting this as a reality.”
Ecclestone, who is being investigated by Munich prosecutors over the issue, has said he was caught up in a sophisticated shakedown and bribed Gribkowsky because he feared the banker might tell U.K. tax authorities about a family trust controlled by his then wife.
BayernLB’s 47 percent share was sold for 840 million euros ($1.07 billion). Ecclestone asked for a kickback of $100 million from BayernLB for his role in setting up the sale, Gribkowsky told the judges. Gribkowsky reduced the amount to $66 million in negotiations and said he agreed to it knowing he had the power to reject Ecclestone’s demand completely.
Because Ecclestone didn’t want cover the cost of the bribes, Gribkowsky set up another scam to funnel money from BayernLB to the Formula One executive, according to the indictment. The bank manager signed a sham contract under which BayernLB had to pay Ecclestone a kickback of $41.4 million and another $25 million to his then wife’s trust, prosecutors claim.
Banker Admits Formula One Bribe
By LAURA STEVENS and DAVID CRAWFORD, The Wall Street Journal
June 20, 2012, 5:15 p.m. ET
Mr. Gribkowsky was arrested early last year after Munich prosecutors launched a probe into allegations that he accepted bribes from Mr. Ecclestone to divest BayernLB’s stake in Formula One for far below the actual value.
BayernLB, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. secured a combined 75% equity stake in Formula One in 2002, part of a debt settlement plan from the bankruptcy of German media company Kirch Group.
F1 : Ecclestone in crisis as Gerhard Gribkowsky Formula 1 bribery affair develops
Friday, 22 June 2012 09:41
The reinvigorated Formula One bribery affair has raised questions not only about the viability of the sport’s planned floatation, but about whether Bernie Ecclestone will lose his job or even face jail in Germany.
“Will Ecclestone go to Hockenheim?” the Die Welt newspaper, obviously musing a potential arrest now that former Formula 1 banker Gerhard Gribkowsky has confirmed the Formula 1 Chief Executive’s payments to him were indeed bribes, wondered.
German lawyer Sewarion Kirkitadze told Bild that Ecclestone ultimately face a prison sentence of “up to ten years”.
“He should also expect the prosecutor to prepare an international arrest warrant and an extradition request.”
Formula 1: Bernie Ecclestone Seeks Nothing Wrong in Paying Banker £28M
Auto Racing Daily
Jun 23, 2012
Bernie Ecclestone said that he had been “a bit stupid” to pay a German banker $44million (£28million) following the sale of Formula One to present owners CVC Capital Partners six years ago but insisted once again that he had done nothing wrong.
“I have always said that we gave him money but it was not for what he said,” said the 81 year-old, who appeared as a witness at the trial in November. “He was shaking me down a bit and saying I had control of a family trust which was not true. He was doing the best he could. I was a little bit stupid – normally I would have told him to get lost.” Telegraph.co.uk
Ecclestone, 81, told Reuters that Gribkowsky had been putting him under pressure over his tax affairs. He paid some 10 million pounds ($16 million) to the banker to “keep him quiet” and not as alleged to smooth the sale of the Formula One stake to private equity firm CVC Capital Partners.
Ecclestone puts brave face on Gribkowsky’s £28m bribe confession
David Tremayne, The Independent
Saturday 23 June 2012
As investment banker Gerhard Gribkowsky awaits sentence in Germany after confessing to taking a $44m (£28m) bribe, allegedly from Bernie Ecclestone, there has been inevitable speculation whether Ecclestone can escape being dragged further into the sport’s latest cause célèbre. It has already led to a delay in the proposed flotation of F1 in Singapore even though the $10bn (£6.4bn) valuation sought by rights holder CVC Capital Partners had been achieved by a recent sale of shareholdings to American investors.
Theoretically if somebody is found guilty of receiving a bribe then the person making the bribe can also be charged but, for Ecclestone, Valencia has been business as usual and he does not appear to have a care in the world. He blamed Gribkowsky for “shaking him down” while testifying at the Bavarian banker’s preliminary hearing, and his attorney Sven Thomas issued a statement after Gribkowsky’s confession claiming that it would have no impact on the prosecutors’ investigation into Ecclestone’s dealings.
Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone faces fresh allegations over £28 million ‘bribe’
By Tom Cary, F1 Correspondent, The Telegraph
10:31PM BST 20 Jun 2012
If Munich’s state prosecutors decide to go after Ecclestone, sources have indicated they might try to agree a financial settlement rather than go through a lengthy and costly trial with a billionaire in his eighties.
Should they press charges, it remains unclear what action, if any, CVC will decide to take. Ecclestone told The Daily Telegraph earlier this year that the private equity firm “could get rid of me tomorrow if it wanted to”.
These are extremely delicate times in the sport. CVC has sold more than £1.3billion worth of shares over the past few months ahead of a mooted flotation on the Singapore stock exchange later this year, although it says it intends to remain F1’s controlling shareholder. CVC declined to comment on Wednesday night.