Jailed banker tells German court that Ecclestone bribed him

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Today in Munich, imprisoned banker Gerhard Gribkowsky told a courtroom that Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone gave him a $44 million bribe over the sale of a stake in the sport.

Ecclestone is accused of giving that alleged bribe to Gribkowsky in order to help move along the sale of German bank BayernLB’s former F1 stake to CVC Capital Partners almost a decade ago.

Gribkowsky, now the star witness for the prosecution, is serving an eight-and-a-half year jail sentence for accepting the money and for tax evasion.

Ecclestone has admitted to the payments, but has consistently maintained that Gribkowsky was threatening to make false reports about him to tax authorities.

According to Reuters, Gribkowsky – who started giving evidence in the trial last Friday – said through an interpreter that “the offer clearly came from him,” meaning Ecclestone.

He also added, “I had a carrot dangled in front of me. I grabbed the carrot.”

As for the matter of what Ecclestone expected in return for the payment, Gribkowsky said “that remained vague.”

Additionally, the banker admitted to spreading rumors about Ecclestone’s tax status but denied the allegations of blackmail from the British billionaire, who faces not only a possible 10-year jail term but the end of his decades-long reign over F1.

“We didn’t have anything concrete,” Gribkowsky said on those rumors. “It was mainly nuisance value.”

Last November, CVC (which owns a 35 percent stake in the sport) said that it was ready to fire Ecclestone if he is found guilty of any charges against him.

“He told me he had never lied to me and I must say that I had trouble believing you could forget payment of $40 million,” CVC co-founder Donald Mackenzie told the High Court in London at that time.

Audi bids farewell to Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich upon retirement

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Audi bid farewell to its iconic head of motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, at its end-of-season ‘Race Night’ event in Germany on Friday upon his retirement.

Ullrich took over the reins as Audi’s head of motorsport in 1993 and stayed in the role for 23 years, overseeing its arrival in the prototype class of sports car racing and domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ullrich stepped down from the position at the end of 2016, handing the reins over to ex-Audi DTM chief Dieter Gass, and attended his final racing event with the German marque at its first works Formula E outing in Hong Kong earlier this month.

Ullrich was honored at the Race Night event on Friday and thanked for his efforts in developing Audi into a force within global motorsport.

“In 566 factory-backed commitments during this period he celebrated 209 victories, 13 of them in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, eleven in the 12-hour race at Sebring and nine in the ‘Petit Le Mans’ at Road Atlanta,” a piece on Ullrich’s tenure for Audi’s website reads.

“31 driver titles in super touring car racing, in the DTM and in the sports prototype category are credited to him. 57 campaigners were Audi factory drivers during Wolfgang Ullrich’s era and he was responsible for 18 new developments of racing cars – an impressive tally.”