Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has come face to face in Germany with the key prosecution witness in a bribery case where he faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Ecclestone is accused of bribing Gerhard Gribkowsky by channeling over 30 million euros to him in return for smoothing the sale of a stake in Formula One held by bank BayernLB to a private equity firm eight years ago.
He has admitted payments to Gribkowsky, but has explained it was to silence him. Ecclestone has said the jailed banker was threatening to make false claims about his tax status that could have jeopardised his fortune.
Gribkowsky said he could not explain why Ecclestone made the payment to him.
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, expressed surprised that the former banker could not give a clearer explanation.
“It’s hard for me to comprehend (what went on) if you are unable to say more precisely how it came about,” Noll told Gribkowsky.
The Munich court has set aside four days for Gribkowsky’s testimony.