Bernie Ecclestone, the elderly head of Formula One, has been indicted by German courts on charges of bribery. This follows reports that had the UK citizen in trouble over payments to Gerhard Gribkowsky, a former German banker with Bayern Landesbank.
Gribkowsky, who will be resting comfortably in a Munich prison for the next eight-and-a-half years, naturally has a story that conflicts with Ecclestone's. According to the German, who oversaw the sale of F1 from Bayern Landesbank in 2006, Ecclestone paid him to undervalue F1's shares while it was sold to CVC Capital Partners. The BBC says Gribkowsky was paid $41.4 million in commissions along with an undisclosed payment from the Ecclestone family's trust.
According to Ecclestone, though, the money paid to Gribkowsky was extorted by the German banker. Ecclestone believed that false information was going to be leaked to the British government regarding illicit tax dealings, which according to Forbes, could have cost Ecclestone up to $3 billion.
Ecclestone has until the middle of August to reply to the charges. It's then up to the German courts to decide whether a trial will be necessary. Based on the he-said-she-said nature of the charges, we wonder how much trouble Bernie is actually in. If found guilty of bribery, Ecclestone could face 10 years in prison.