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Formula One: Bernie Ecclestone to face trial in Germany

updated 5:03 PM EST, Thu January 16, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Bernie Ecclestone will stand trial on bribery charges, a German court announced
  • The 83-year-old is accused of making corrupt payments during the sale of Formula One
  • He will step down as a director of the company that owns the rights to the motorsport
  • However, Ecclestone will continue to be involved in the running of F1

(CNN) -- How do you run a business effectively when your supremo is facing bribery charges over a multibillion-dollar deal?

In the case of Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone you step down as director of the sport's holding company -- Delta Topco -- but continue to run one of the world's most lucrative sport franchises on a day-to-day basis.

The 83-year-old Ecclestone is accused of making a corrupt payment during his sale of the sport in 2006 and was indicted on bribery charges in German. He is set to go on trial in April.

He denies the charges and he was not immediately available for comment when his office was contacted by CNN.

Sebastian Vettel is proving to be a worthy successor to fellow German driver Michael Schumacher (right) as the biggest star in Formula One. Sebastian Vettel is proving to be a worthy successor to fellow German driver Michael Schumacher (right) as the biggest star in Formula One.
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Vettel and Schumacher\'s route to success Vettel and Schumacher's route to success
Sebastian Vettel has got used to having the open road between his Red Bull and his rivals in the 2013 season. He has won 13 of the 19 races up for grabs. Sebastian Vettel has got used to having the open road between his Red Bull and his rivals in the 2013 season. He has won 13 of the 19 races up for grabs.
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Sebastian Vettel: The loneliness of the F1 champion Sebastian Vettel: The loneliness of the F1 champion

Following the court's decision, Delta Topco Limited held a board meeting to plan how best to run the F1 business.

"Mr. Ecclestone has reassured the board that he is innocent of the charges and intends to vigorously defend the case which will commence in late April 2014," said a Delta Topco statement.

"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.

"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.

"Mr. Ecclestone has agreed to these arrangements. The approval and signing of significant contracts and other material business arrangements shall now be the responsibility of the chairman, Mr. Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, and deputy chairman, Mr. Donald Mackenzie."

Ecclestone is accused of making a corrupt payment to Gerhard Gribkowsky, a banker who worked on the sale of F1 to private equity firm CVC in 2006.

Gribkowsky was jailed for eight and a half years in 2012 after he admitted to taking bribes, an accusation which Ecclestone denies.

Read: F1 unveils driver numbers for 2014 season

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