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Gribkowsky testifies Bernie bribed him

Munich: A jailed former German banker told a court on Tuesday that Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone had bribed him when they worked together, supporting the prosecution case in the Briton’s trial.

Ecclestone is accused of bribing Gerhard Gribkowsky by channelling $44 million to him in return for a smooth sale of a stake in Formula One held by bank BayernLB to the private equity firm CVC eight years ago.

The 83-year-old, who denies wrongdoing, could face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty and a conviction would end his long grip on a business he helped to create.

“The offer clearly came from him,” Gribkowsky told the court in Munich, as Ecclestone followed proceedings with the help of an interpreter. “I accepted the offer.”

Gribkowsky, former chief risk officer with BayernLB, said he was culpable for allowing himself to be corrupted. “I had a carrot dangled in front of me. I grabbed the carrot,” he added.

Gribkowsky, who started giving evidence on Friday, has struggled to explain exactly what Ecclestone had demanded in return for payments. The German told the court that Ecclestone had threatened to leave Formula One and set up a rival motor racing series unless the business was sold to an investor who was to his liking.