The German court case against Bernie Ecclestone seems to be a question of timing if you ask me but then again, I’m no attorney nor is anyone asking. Today it was revealed that the German prosecution is now adding some icing to their otherwise bitter cake.
According to an article in the Mail, prosecutors are now suggesting that Ecclestone did not honor his pledge to pay Gribkowsky until the incarcerated ex-banker blackmailed him to do so by putting pressure on the Formula 1 boss by suggesting he would tell British taxation authorities (Inland Revenue) that he was the person who set up the Bambino family trust which would have subjected him to 40% taxation equaling millions.
Now color me reactionary but if the alleged bribe wasn’t paid to Gribkowsky prior to the sell of BayernLB’s interest in F1, it seems a bit hard to suggest that the bribe money was supposed to be paid after the sale or at worst, Gribkowsky was challenging Germany’s current holder of the dullest man in the country label.
Why would a banker put his entire credentials on the line by greasing the sell of his employer’s assets before ensuring he was paid the bribe money to do so? He fell for one of the oldest tricks in the book…”the check is in the mail”? I can’t imagine he was that dull.
Prosecution is suggesting that the bribe was agreed to and the amount fixed and Gribkowsky gave the green light to sell and coerced his employer to do so. Then, after the sale, he was not paid the bribe money so he blackmailed Ecclestone for it by threatening to tell Inland Revenue that Bambino was Bernie’s baby?
As I said, it seems to come down to timing and if I were a judge in this case, which I am not, I would have serious doubts as to the timing. Why would Gribkowsky make the entire sale happen prior to receiving a dime of some promised bribe to actually make it happen?
That all sounds as if someone is knitting a case of bribe and blackmail together in a timeline that is inclusive of both in order to keep them in play, legally speaking, but still show a bribe took place. Well there was a bribe and yes, he was blackmailed but only after the bribe and because he did not pay. Hmmm.
What if the bank sold the assets and during those proceedings a very opportunistic person discovered a way in which he could fleece some extra dosh out of Ecclestone in the process by implicating him of tax evasion unless he paid him an exorbitant fee? A sort of “thank you for helping in the sale of F1 sort of comeuppance”?
It seems very strange to me that a bribe would be executed around a post-dated check. That isn’t how bribes work the last time I checked. You could argue that Ecclestone said that he will pay the bribe money only after everything is settled and while that could explain the timing, it still betrays the rudimentary wisdom of anyone clever enough to even take a bribe in the first place.
The simple fact is that Ecclestone had no reason to bribe Gribkowsky in order to keep his job as former FIA president Max Mosley suggested as that organization had the final trump card on any potential buyer and could easily trump anyone who intended to relieve Ecclestone of his post.
Gribkowksy’s lawyer admitted in December that:
‘it’s an open secret that Mr. Ecclestone is the deciding man behind Bambino.’
Well, that’s what Ecclestone has said all along. I find the entire issue a bit dodgy from a timing perspective and as an incarcerated man who legitimately did evade taxes and is serving time, I suspect his word may not be the most trustworthy.
The court will decide as it will but there is reason for pause in this case because I’m not sure suggesting that a bribe was simply agreed to by word of mouth and never paid up and then the blackmail occurred in order to get the bribe money paid is a case worthy of 10 years in jail.
If they have no document or recording of any agreed-to bribe or special consulting fee that was to be paid for ushering the sale of F1 to CVC Capital, then I think this case is bust. If Gribkowsky’s bank account shows the deposit of money prior to the sale of F1, then they may have a case but if not, I can’t see this as anything but speculation.