Bernie Ecclestone has hit back after German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky this week sensationally admitted he received millions in bribes from the F1 chief executive.
Gribkowsky recalled the diminutive Briton telling him that, “In Formula One, the practice is you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”.
German media reports said the former BayernLB risk officer also told the court that Ecclestone said he had the power to re-shuffle contracts so that the bank’s stake in the lucrative sport would be diluted. At the same time, Ecclestone reportedly told Gribkowsky that “If you help me to sell formula one, I will employ you as a consultant”.
Ecclestone, whose conduct amid the sport’s sale some years ago is also being probed by the Munich prosecutors, responded to Gribkowsky’s court admission by telling the Telegraph that the jailed banker is trying “to save himself”.
“I suppose he would say that,” the 81-year-old explained, “so maybe he gets seven years instead of 14 years. The poor guy has been banged up for 18 months. He would have said anything to save himself. He was going to be locked up whatever happens,” Ecclestone added.
In a separate Telegraph article by journalist Christian Sylt, Ecclestone said he was considering whether to take legal action against Gribkowsky.
Widespread media reports confirmed that Gribkowsky’s admission means he now faces a maximum of nine years in jail, rather than many more.
The judgement is expected next week.