Convicted German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, a key witness in the corruption trial of Bernie Ecclestone, has told a court that the Formula One boss offered him a $US10 million ($A10.8 million) bribe in 2004.
Questioned for several hours at the Munich hearing on Friday, Gribkowsky said the motoring magnate had offered him the multi-million dollar bribe in order to resolve a legal dispute linked to the sale of Formula One rights.
Gribkowsky was risk manager at BayernLB bank at the time, which was the biggest shareholder of Formula One but Bernie Ecclestone had a veto with a “golden share”.
The German bank had decided to challenge that veto in court.
According to Gribkowsky’s testimony, Ecclestone, in 2004, proposed during a telephone conversation to give Gribkowsky the money “to abandon the legal process”.
Gribkowsky, on his first day of evidence, told the court he informed his bosses and police about the offer, despite there never being an investigation into this latest allegation of bribery.
He also claimed that he was offered a second bribe of $US80 million in Singapore, which appeared to take the court by surprise.
“And you are telling us this now, like this?” said Judge Peter Noll, who adjourned the hearing until next Tuesday.
Ecclestone, 83, is accused of paying Gribkowsky $US44 million in 2006 and 2007 to ensure his continued grip on the motor sports empire he had built up over four decades.
Ecclestone, who has pleaded not guilty, faces a maximum jail term of 10 years if he is found guilty.
He admits making the $US44 million payment not as a bribe but as hush money after a blackmail attempt.