The pre-trial documents outlining the case against Bernie Ecclestone make no mention of the possibility that he was blackmailed by Gerhard Gribkowsky.
This is the claim of the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, revealing that it has seen and read the 223-page document ahead of the Munich hearings that begin next week.
Formula 1’s Chief Executive claims that he only paid the millions to jailed banker Gribkowsky because Gribkowsky was threatening to divulge details of Ecclestone’s tax affairs to authorities.
But Welt am Sonntag claims that prosecutors do not regard Ecclestone’s version of events as legitimate, insisting that the almost $44 million in payments to Gribkowsky were made solely so that the 83-year-old Briton could “secure his position of power” in charge of Formula 1.
Citing the court documents, the newspaper also says 40 witnesses are scheduled to testify at the trial, which will be attended by Ecclestone himself.
Ecclestone said in Bahrain last weekend that Formula 1 will “do our best” to run the sport while he is occupied in court.
“The judge has been very good,” he told British television Sky. “He has said you’ve just got two days a week in court, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
“On the Wednesday’s he’s going to try and get things out of the way a little bit earlier so I can leave and carry on doing what I normally do,” added Ecclestone. (GMM)
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