Banker fails to explain why F1 boss Ecclestone paid him millions
By Jörn Poltz
MUNICH Germany (Reuters) - A jailed German banker said on Friday he could not explain why Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone made a multi-million dollar payment to him that is central to the prosecution case in the Briton's bribery trial.
Ecclestone is accused of bribing banker Gerhard Gribkowsky by channelling $44 million to him in return for smoothing the sale of a stake in Formula One held by bank BayernLB to the private equity firm CVC eight years ago.
The 83-year-old, who denies bribery charges, could face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.
Gribkowsky, the former BayernLB chief risk officer, was jailed for 8-1/2 years in 2012 over the payments.
His relationship with Ecclestone is the central issue in a case that threatens to cost the Formula One boss his job and his reputation, and he was regarded as a key prosecution witness.
But Gribkowsky, appearing as a witness for the first time, struggled to give precise details on what had gone on.
Asked why he received money from Ecclestone, he told the court in Munich: "I never asked myself that question. I'm still annoyed with myself for that today."
Judge Peter Noll, who also presided over the case when Gribkowsky was convicted two years ago, was surprised that the former banker could not give a clearer explanation. Continued...