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F1 Boss Ecclestone Facing Possible Bribery Charge

Criminal charges reportedly under study in F1 stock sale.

by on Jun.25, 2012

Is 82-year-old F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone going to face bribery charges?

His name has surfaced in connection with a variety of questionable activities over the years yet Formula One czar Bernie Ecclestone has always managed to steer clear of trouble. But now, his luck may be running out as German newspaper Bild reports that German prosecutors are preparing to file bribery charges that could put the British mogul behind bars for up to a decade.

The potential charges stem from the ongoing trial of German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, who has been held in a Munich prison for the past 18 months. Gribkowsky’s lengthy trial, which began last October, covers a myriad of charges including corrupt payments, tax evasion and breach of trust against his employer.  It all stems out of the 2006 sale of the Formula One holding company to its current controlling shareholder, CVC Capital Partners.

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In a deal with prosecutors to reduce his sentence to no more than nine years, the former banker had admitted, “I allowed myself to be bribed.  It has taken me a long time to come to terms with what I did to admit it even to myself – yes, it was bribery, and yes, I should have paid tax.  Even today I have troubles accepting this as reality.”  But the damage came when Gribkowsky adds that, “With hindsight, I know now that I should have said no to (Bernie Ecclestone’s) demands.”

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Formula One’s Ecclestone Bidding for Saab

GM meanwhile selects Alix Partners to begin Saab "wind down."

by on Jan.08, 2010

He turned Formula One into a billion-dollar profit-maker. Can Ecclestone do the same with Saab?

He’s best known for turning the Formula One racing series into a massive money-maker, but now Britain’s Bernie Ecclestone wants to get into the car-making business.  With his partner, Genii Capital, the 79-year-old British entrepreneur is making a last-minute bid to purchase Saab, the Swedish automaker that General Motors is in the process of shutting down.

Ecclestone’s entry into the bidding comes as GM announces it has chosen Michigan-based AlixPartners, “to supervise the orderly wind down of Saab,” the company said in a statement Friday morning.  “GM also confirmed it has received several proposals for Saab and is continuing to evaluate these proposals.”

A bid from the Scandinavian sports car maker Konigsegg collapsed, several months ago, and GM Chairman Ed Whitacre said, earlier this week that he didn’t expect an alternative offer from the Dutch-based specialty automaker, Spyker, to be completed.  As a result, Whitacre said GM was “winding down” operations at the 72-year-old Saab, though he indicated, in a meeting with reporters, that Saab could survive if someone would “Just show up with the money.”

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That’s one thing Ecclestone has plenty of.  He’s transformed F1 from a money-losing series into the world’s premier racing program.  And that translates into multi-billion-dollar empire.  The Fortune 2009 list places the value of holdings by Ecclestone and his family at $3.7 billion.

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