Ecclestone Admits Bribe Case Could End His Reign As F1 CEO
F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone has spoken for the first time about how his reign "could be threatened if he is charged in a bribery case" in Germany surrounding the $1.6B sale of the motor racing series to private equity firm CVC in '06, according to Christian Sylt of the London TELEGRAPH. Ecclestone said CVC "will probably be forced to get rid of me if the Germans come after me." He said, "It’s pretty obvious, if I’m locked up." Although he is "still being investigated by the Germans, he has not been charged." Ecclestone has admitted paying Gribkowsky, "but denies it was a bribe." Instead, Ecclestone said that the banker had threatened that if he were not paid, he would give U.K. tax authority HMRC "alleged details" of Ecclestone’s tax affairs. Ecclestone’s comments "follow a stinging attack last week" by Ferrari Chair Luca di Montezemolo, who said: "The era of the one-man show cannot continue. We are slowly approaching the end of a period characterised by the style of one man who has done significant things." As part of the plans for the stalled $10B flotation of F1, CVC had contacted head-hunting agency Egon Zehnder to "draft a short-list of potential replacements." Ecclestone, 82, insists that this "doesn’t indicate that CVC has any intention of getting rid of him." Ecclestone: "They said they had hired a head-hunter to find somebody in the event that I was not going to be there -- if I was going to die or something. It is the normal thing they do to keep people happy" (TELEGRAPH, 12/29).