Ecclestone Made Secret Payments to Banker, Witness Says

Bernie Ecclestone made secret payments to the former chief risk officer of Bayerische Landesbank, a tax adviser to the Formula One racing chief executive officer told a Munich court.

Ecclestone, 83, is on trial on charges he bribed the BayernLB executive, Gerhard Gribkowsky, to ensure he wouldn’t oppose a 2005 sale of the lender’s stake in the racing series to private-equity firm CVC Capital Partners Ltd. Gribkowsky, who managed BayernLB’s interest in Formula One before the sale, was sentenced to 8 1/2 years in prison in 2012 for accepting bribes in the deal.

“Ecclestone told me at a meeting in London that he needs to transfer money to Mr. Gribkowsky,” Jean-Andre Favre, a Swiss tax adviser who administered corporate entities, including a Panama-registered special purpose vehicle, on behalf of Ecclestone, testified today. “Ecclestone didn’t want his name to appear in the process.”

Ecclestone denied the allegations at the beginning of the trial in April, saying he paid the money to avoid having to pay additional taxes. He said Gribkowsky threatened to give U.K. tax officials misleading information about an Ecclestone family trust.

According to an advisory agreement, Gribkowsky was to receive money from the Panamanian entity, Lewington Invest, in return for consulting services, Favre testified. Ecclestone didn’t give him a reason for the payment, Favre said.

CVC founding partner Donald MacKenzie is scheduled to testify tomorrow.

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