Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has stepped down from the board of Delta Topco, the sport's parent company, following confirmation that he will face court on bribery charges.
The news follows an announcement yesterday that German prosecutors have successfully argued for Ecclestone to stand trial on charges that he bribed banker Gerhard Gribkowsky in 2006.
“After discussion with the board, Mr. Ecclestone has proposed and the board has agreed that until the case has been concluded, he will step down as a director with immediate effect, thereby relinquishing his board duties and responsibilities until the case has been resolved," Delta Topco said in a statement.
Ecclestone will remain in charge of the business until his April court appearance, under a new agreement reached with the Delta Topco board.
“The board believes that it is in the best interests of both the F1 business and the sport that Mr Ecclestone should continue to run the business on a day-to-day basis, but subject to increased monitoring and control by the board," a statement from major Formula 1 shareholder CVC Capital Partners said.
"Mr Ecclestone has agreed to these arrangements."
Eccleston, 81, admitted in 2012 to paying Gerhard Gribkowsky some €45 million during the sales of the Formula 1 business to CVC some years ago.
Ecclestone has claimed he paid Gribkowsky the millions because the former BayernLB risk officer 'shook him down' by threatening to cause trouble with UK tax authorities.
Condemning Gribkowsky to eight-and-a-half years in jail in 2012, presiding judge Peter Noll said in the Munich state court: "In this process we assume the driving force was Mr Ecclestone".
The F1 chief executive "brought the accused into breaking the law and not the other way around", Noll added, according to the Financial Times.
“CVC will probably be forced to get rid of me if the Germans come after me. It’s pretty obvious, if I’m locked up," Ecclestone told the UK's Sunday Telegraph.
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