Ecclestone lawyers face wait to question key prosecution witness

Wed May 14, 2014 8:28am EDT
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By Jörn Poltz

MUNICH Germany (Reuters) - Lawyers for Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone will have to wait until late July for their chance to cross-examine a jailed former banker who is the key prosecution witness in the billionaire Briton's bribery trial.

Gerhard Gribkowsky, former chief risk officer at German state-owned bank BayernLB, has told a court in Munich that Ecclestone bribed him when they worked together in the motor sport.

Ecclestone is accused of channeling $44 million to the German for smoothing the sale of a stake in Formula One held by BayernLB to the private equity firm CVC eight years ago.

The 83-year-old Ecclestone, who denies wrongdoing, could face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty and a conviction would end his long grip on a business he helped to create.

Ecclestone's lawyers wanted to challenge Gribkowsky's version of efforts on Wednesday but little time was available after his evidence had taken up two and a half days.

"Now the defense team is in the happy position of having 16 minutes to put questions before we break for lunch," judge Peter Noll said light-heartedly.

He set July 30 as the date for cross-examination to save having to reschedule other witness appearances.

The case is only being heard for a day or two each week to allow Ecclestone to continue to run the Formula One business he has built into a global money spinner.   Continued...

Formula One chief executive Bernie Ecclestone arrives in court in Munich May 14, 2014.  REUTERS/Michaela Rehle