Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone could be forced from the sport he's controlled for 40 years due a criminal inquiry and lawsuit linked to a bribery scandal, British newspaper The Independent reported Friday night.
Ecclestone, 82, is under investigation in Germany over GG Consulting. That company set up by a German banker received $44 million from Ecclestone, money that was allegedly used to ensure the bank would sell its stake in F1 to CVC Capital. CVC Capital is a London-based private equity firm that controls a large percentage of F1 and has agreed to keep Ecclestone in charge.
The newspaper reports that German prosecutors are deciding whether to charge Ecclestone. There is also a separate lawsuit filed in New York over the same allegations.
Ecclestone said he was "absolutely not guilty" he paid a bribe or that banker, Gerhard Gribkowsky, was "shaking him down." He also told The Independent that he had no plans to retire, although he hinted there should be a succession plan in place.
"One day, I'm not going to be there and one of the biggest problems is I've got really, really good relationships with the race promoters," Ecclestone said before this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix. "A few of them said to me, 'If you're not there, we're not there'. That's what the danger is. They feel that they trust me and wouldn't want to let me down. That's probably a very important issue. I think about retiring but I'm not going to do it. What would I do?"
CVC Capital declined comment, according to The Independent .