Bernie Ecclestone Insists He Is Innocent As Trial Begins

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April 24, 2014 | 11:23am EST

Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has denied charges of bribery at the start of his trial in Munich, Germany on Thursday.
The motor racing mogul is accused of paying German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky $44 million in 2005 to ensure the sale of his stake in Formula One to CVC, a private equity group with links to the billionaire.
Gribkowsky is currently serving an eight and a half year jail sentence for tax evasion, while Ecclestone’s trial started on Thursday, and his lawyers issued a statement at the start of the hearing reiterating the tycoon’s denial.
It reads, “The alleged bribery never happened. The prosecution’s claims are based on statements by Dr. Gribkowsky, which are wrong, misleading and not conclusive.”
Ecclestone is adamant he handed over the money because Gribkowsky had threatened to blackmail him.
The trial is expected to last five months.