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Prosecutors dismiss Ecclestone ‘blackmail’

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Prosecutors dismiss Ecclestone blackmail

Bernie Ecclestone and Fernando Alonso

The pre-trial documents outlining the case against Bernie Ecclestone make no mention of the possibility he was blackmailed by Gerhard Gribkowsky.

That is the claim of the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, revealing that it has seen and read the 223-page document ahead of the Munich hearings that begin next week.

F1′s chief executive claims he only paid the millions to jailed banker Gribkowsky because he was threatening to divulge details of Ecclestone’s tax affairs to authorities.

But Welt am Sonntag claims prosecutors do not regard Ecclestone’s account as legitimate, insisting the almost $44 million in payments to Gribkowsky was solely so the 83-year-old Briton can “secure his position of power” in charge of F1.

Citing the court documents, the newspaper also says 40 witnesses are scheduled to testify at the trial, which will be attended by Ecclestone himself.

Ecclestone said in Bahrain last weekend that F1 will “do our best” to run the sport while he is occupied in court.

“The judge has been very good,” he told British television Sky. “He has said you’ve just got two days a week in court, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

“On the Wednesday’s he’s going to try and get things out of the way a little bit earlier so I can leave and carry on doing what I normally do,” added Ecclestone.

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