Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone will be charged soon in Germany for bribing a banker to gain access to his bank’s F1 shares, a German newspaper has reported.
The Munich daily Süddeutsche Zeitung said ‘Investigations into the case are complete and a Munich court is preparing to file charges in the case within a month, although there may be a delay as the details need to be translated into English before being delivered to Ecclestone’s lawyers,” according to the Guardian.
Prosecutors said they couldn’t comment on the case.
German authorities investigated a $44 million payment from Ecclestone to banker Gerhard Gribkowsky of BayernLB. Prosecutors reportedly believe the payment was to ensure Ecclestone could buy the bank’s stake in F1 six years ago.
At the banker’s trial in Germany last year, Ecclestone, 82, said he made the payment under duress when Gribkowsky threatened to trigger a U.K. tax investigation.
Formula One is the top class of single-seater car racing sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile.
Ecclestone sold the racing series to private equity fund CVC in 2006 for $1.6 billion.
The firm has hired a head hunter in case Ecclestone is forced to resign because of criminal charges, he told the press earlier this year.