A German court’s two-year investigation into whether Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone bribed a banker during the 2006 sale of the sport to CVC Capital Partners may finally be coming to a head.
Ecclestone told the Financial Times on Wednesday he had received an indictment. “It’s a pity it’s happened,” he said, adding he would “defend it properly”.
He plans to contest the charges, raising the prospect of another lengthy court battle. The relevant documents are currently being translated into English.
Gribkowsky was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in prison last year following a nine-month trial during which Ecclestone admitted making payments to him. “He was shaking me down and I didn’t want to take a risk,” Ecclestone said at the time.
The threat of legal proceedings will be unwelcome for CVC, who are planning to float Formula One on the Singapore stock exchange. It is targeting a value of over $10 billion for the sport. An earlier attempt at an initial public offering was abandoned due to unfavorable economic conditions in Europe.
At the end of the year Ecclestone admitted CVC “will probably be forced to get rid of me” if he were to face charges over the bribery allegations.
Ecclestone also faces charges in the UK that some F1 rights were sold at below their true value.