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Ecclestone to Face Bribery Charges Says Business Crime Solicitor

As has been widely reported Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula 1 supremo, has been charged in Germany with Bribery and breach of trust. He is due to stand trial in Munich later this year explains Business Crime Solicitor Kyle Phillips.

The charges relate to an allegation that Mr Ecclestone paid Gerhard Gribkowsky, a German banker, $44 million in bribes to ensure the sale of a stake in Formula 1 to a private equity group of his choice (CVC) 8 years ago.   

Although this matter is being prosecuted in Germany had this offence been committed after July 2011 then, as a UK citizen, Mr Ecclestone could potentially have been prosecuted in the UK under the Bribery Act 2010 (the Act) even though all the conduct occurred overseas.

The Act has an extraordinarily wide jurisdiction. The scope of the Act is set out in section 12 as follows:

  • s.12(1) includes any act which forms part of the offence taking place within the UK,
  • s.12 (2) includes an act which was done outside the UK but if done in the UK it would form part of such an offence and the person has close connections to the UK.   

The definition of a ‘close connection to the UK’ includes British citizens, a British overseas territories citizen and British National (overseas) (s.12 (4)).  

Similarly had Mr Ecclestone been acting on behalf of a company, then potentially the corporate offence under section 7 of the Act could also have been engaged.  

For the purposes of section 7 it again does not matter where the offence took place A company will be liable to prosecution if it is a relevant commercial organisation and a person associated with it (irrespective of their nationality) bribes another intending to obtain or retain business or an advantage in the conduct of business.

This is in effect an offence of strict liability, although there is a full defence to a section 7 offence if a commercial organisation can prove, on the balance of probabilities, that it had adequate anti-bribery procedures in place.

Slater and Gordon have substantial experience in devising anti-corruption policies for a range of commercial sectors and have trained staff at all levels to ensure that the policies are properly implemented.
We are also able to assist both individuals and businesses if you believe you are subject to an investigation or think you may be charged with a bribery or corruption offence.  

Our Business Crime Solicitors are available 24/7 and are happy to offer a free initial consultation.

For further information contact Shula de Jersey in London, or Craig McAdam in Manchester; or call freephone 0808 175 7722