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Report – Banker paid $50m for F1 power role?

According to a report in the German press, a banker became a multi-millionaire following his links to formula one’s commercial rights.

Before the rights were sold to CVC Capital Partners some years ago, Bayerische Landesbank board member Dr Gerhard Gribkowsky was a regular in the F1 paddock as the sport’s carmakers threatened to split and race in a ‘breakaway’ series.

At that time, BayernLB controlled the rights and Gribkowsky was reportedly instrumental in restoring that control to F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone after the sale to CVC.

The Seddeutsche Zeitung newspaper speculates that as a ‘thankyou’ for supporting the now 80-year-old British billionaire, Gribkowsky may have been paid the handsome sum of US $50 million.

The speculation has emerged due to Gribkowsky’s formation of a private charity foundation in Austria called Sonnenschein Privatstiftung, raising suspicions about how he made his fortune.

German media reports said the Suddeutsche Zeitung confronted him about the source of the money but Gribkowsky gave “no plausible explanation”.

The same reports refer to BayernLB’s purchase of 50 per cent of the Austrian bank Hypo Group Alpe Adria for 1.63 billion euros in 2007, and the subsequent re-sale for one euro and nationalisation to avoid a collapse.

Gribkowsky was questioned by prosecutors about his involvement in the collapse in 2010, and also his personal financial situation.