Sport Motorsport Bernie Ecclestone on trial: I’ve had better days
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Bernie Ecclestone on trial: I’ve had better days

Bernie Ecclestone
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Formula One magnate Bernie Ecclestone admits finding the opening day of his German trial stressful as he faced bribery charges which threaten to land the British billionaire in jail.

“It was an exhausting first day. The judge, the prosecutors and my lawyers all speak German, I don’t,” Ecclestone told a German newspaper.

“Although I had an interpreter translating every word simultaneously, it was still stressful to follow everything as it was being said.”

Ecclestone flew back to Britain after hearing five hours of opening arguments with the prosecution’s indictment covering 24 pages, while the defence’s statement was 91 pages long.

But despite the marathon hearing, the octogenarian still managed to banter with judge Peter Noll.

“Why not?”, Ecclestone said.

“The court and the prosecutors are all nice people just trying to do their jobs.”

The Briton’s next court date is scheduled for May 2.

The 83-year-old is accused of paying German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky $US44 million ($A48 million) to ensure his continued grip on the motor sports empire he had built up over four decades.

The cash changed hands eight years ago when a German corporate bankruptcy had left several banks in charge of major stakes of the Formula One enterprise.

Gribkowsky was then risk manager of one of the banks, Germany’s BayernLB.

Prosecutors charge that the money was a bribe meant to ensure that BayernLB sold its shares to Ecclestone’s preferred bidder, CVC Capital Partners of Britain, now the sport’s majority shareholder.

Ecclestone’s lawyer has dismissed the allegations as “inaccurate, misleading and unsubstantiated” and said “the alleged bribery did not take place”.