Witness backs Ecclestone’s blackmail claim

L-R: Dr Gerhard Gribkowsky (GER) the majority shareholder of SLEC Holdings with Bernie Ecclestone (GBR) F1 supremo with daughters Petra Ecclestone (GBR) and Tamara Ecclestone (GBR). Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Italian Grand Prix, Race Day, Monza, Italy, 4 September 2005. DIGITAL IMAGE

Bernie Ecclestone with Gerhard Gribkowsky at the 2005 Italian GP

Oct.10 (GMM) A witness in the forthcoming trial of former Formula 1 banker Gerhard Gribkowsky reportedly supports Bernie Ecclestone’s claims.

The F1 chief executive insists he only paid millions to jailed Gribkowsky amid the sale of the sport’s commercial rights some years ago because he was effectively blackmailed.

But Ecclestone, 80, has reportedly remained under investigation by the Munich prosecutors as some paddock regulars wonder how the indefatigable Briton could ever be blackmailed and for such a huge amount of money.

Der Spiegel news magazine, however, will report on Monday that a female former colleague provided Gribkowsky with a document showing Ecclestone’s links with Bambino, his offshore family trust.

Ecclestone, to appear as a witness at the trial, had claimed in July that Gribkowsky “threatened that he was going to say that I was running it (the trust)”.

“He was shaking me down and I didn’t want to take a risk,” he added.

Spiegel claims Ecclestone’s explanation is backed by the female witness who told investigators that she showed Gribkowsky the offending document in 2004.

“I was scared,” the report quotes Ecclestone as telling investigators, who have reportedly not found the document. Gribkowsky denies its existence.