A weekly news magazine from Germany has alleged that a payment of a supposed $50 million bribe to a banker who helped broker the sale of Formula 1’s commercial rights came from none other than a company founded by F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.
Last week, the 80-year-old Briton denied allegations in German publications that he had paid BayernLB banker Gerhard Gribkowsky a hefty kickback when the sport’s commercial rights were sold some five years ago.
Describing the claims as “nonsense”, Ecclestone claimed that he and his business empires had “nothing to do with” these allegations, and that he would strenuously defend himself in court.
But the Stern magazine has claimed in its latest publication that the payments made to Gribkowsky came from a company called Petara – with the company name believed to stem from an amalgamation of of Ecclestone’s daughters’ names: Petra and Tamara.
Part of the deal saw Gribkowsky appointed as a director of Petara, just days before his own company, GG Consulting, was established.
The final truth may never actually come out in the wash, but irrespective of the outcome, this is bad news for the Formula One group as it once again places the sport in a poor light – hardly something that prospective sponsors will find to be an attractive proposition if they’re considering an investment in the sport.