Formula 1's owners have backed Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone after the 82-year-old Briton was formally charged with bribery by German prosecutors last week.

Ecclestone has been charged over a payment of $44m made to now jailed banker Gerhard Gribkowsky in the sale of F1 to CVC back in 2005. The speculation is that Ecclestone made the payment, as he knew the sale to CVC would see him be kept on as Chief Executive.

The Briton however has always claimed Gribkowsky, who threatened to report him to the UK tax authorities, blackmailed him.

After the charges were formally made Ecclestone said he would not resign and speaking to the Sunday Times in Geneva he revealed that the chiefs at CVC had met to discuss the on-going situation between him and the German prosecutors.

"Everyone voted to support me staying on and running the business," he said.

"The board agrees I should stay unless I'm convicted."

Ecclestone then proceeded to dismiss the charges as "a complete load of rubbish."

Despite his defence however, it is thought Ecclestone has told F1 business journalist Christian Sylt that he expects the Munich court to hear the charges although he has yet to see the charges sheet himself.

"I hope they don't but I think they will," he said in the Guardian. "Then we will see what happens. That doesn't mean to say there will be a trial."

Reuters news agency reported several days ago that prosecutors could settle the case with Ecclestone in exchange for a "non-penal payment".


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