“Silence money or shmear money”; blackmail or bribery?
How do you show that a quiet illicit payment was corruption and not extortion?
The Bavarian Landesbank BayernLB came into some unexpected Formula One stock (through a series of events after a Deutsche Bank manager said things in a television interview that led to the end of Leo Kirch’s ability to get more loans and the subsequent implosion of the Kirch media empire). One of BayernLB’s managers started asking questions, in Germany and England, to learn about how Formula One was run in order to learn how much his bank’s new stock was worth. He found the racing empire curiously opaque. He found Bernie Ecclestone had a strange veto right, and filed lawsuits to counter it. Then, say prosecutors, Bernie Ecclestone decided to “turn” the diligent bank manager. A 44-million-euro payment was made (disguised as consulting fees and transferred in several installments to accounts in Austria).
The bank manager testified it was a bribe was to obtain BayernLB’s support for the sale of Mr. Kirch’s Formula One shares to a buyer Bernie Ecclestone preferred.
At his trial in Munich, Bernie Ecclestone’s lawyers are saying it was a blackmail payment to buy the bank manager’s silence after he made threats.
(SHVY gah geld ode ah SHMEAR geld.)