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Letter shows Ecclestone paid banker bribe – report

A German newspaper has published more details about its claim that Bernie Ecclestone paid a $50 million bribe amid the sale of F1’s commercial rights five years ago.

Earlier in January, the sport’s chief executive vowed to “fight it in the courts” if publications continued to allege he paid German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky a $50 million kickback when the rights were sold by BayernLB to F1’s current owners CVC.

The newsmagazine Stern subsequently alleged that the payments to Gribkowsky were linked with a company called Petara — a word made up from the names of Ecclestone’s daughters Petra and Tamara.

Now, the Suddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) newspaper claims it has found “concrete evidence” about the Ecclestone link.

The evidence is reportedly a letter to 80-year-old Briton Ecclestone from an Austrian company called GREP GmbH, which received the bulk of the Gribkowsky payment.

The letter, marked as confidential and dated December 14 2007, demands that Ecclestone pay a missing instalment of $2.3 million as well as late penalties.

The writer was a lawyer working for Gribkowsky, and SZ cited sources in revealing that Ecclestone was “outraged” when he received the letter in London.

The latest media report said Formula One Management has renewed its denial that the company or its boss Ecclestone were involved with or had any knowledge about the payments to Gribkowsky.