Ecclestone is charged with bribery and incitement to breach of trust "in an especially grave case" over a US$ 44 million payment to a German banker, that prosecutors allege was meant to facilitate the sale of the Formula One Group to a buyer of Ecclestone's liking.
Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone went on trial on Thursday in a bribery case that could threaten the 83—year—old’s grip on the sport.
Prosecutors allege the payment was meant to facilitate the sale of Munich based bank Bayern LB’s stake in Formula One to a buyer of Ecclestone’s liking. Gribkowsky was in charge of selling that 47 per cent stake in F1 in 2005.
Ecclestone has denied wrongdoing and said he was “shaken down.”
Ecclestone testified during Gribkowsky’s trial in 2011, and Gribkowsky is expected to be the main witness during Ecclestone’s trial, which is scheduled to last until September 16.
Gribkowsky was found guilty of corruption, tax evasion and breach of trust in a trial led by the same judge who is hearing Ecclestone’s case, Peter Noll.
Ecclestone has stepped down temporarily as a director of F1’s holding company pending the outcome of the trial, though he continues to manage the sport’s commercial operations on behalf of investment fund CVC Capital Partners, which has a controlling stake in the web of companies which run the commercial side of the sport.
CVC senior management had previously warned that Ecclestone would not be about to remain in charge if he was found guilty, even if he avoids a prison sentence.