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Bernie Ecclestone to keep running F1 as bribery case goes to trial

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Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone will keep running the day-to-day affairs of the international motor racing series despite going on trial in Germany on  bribery charges.

But the 83-year-old billionaire -- known in Formula One circles as "Supremo" -- did step down Thursday as a board member of the sport's holding company.

That meant Ecclestone ceded all decision-making powers to Formula One's management board pending the outcome of the trial, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The board said in a statement that it was "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."

Ecclestone was indicted last July in connection with $45 million Ecclestone paid in 2006-07 to a banker who was helping with the sale of an ownership stake in Formula One.

The banker, Gerhard Gribkowsky, was convicted and sentenced to prison in connection with the events.

During Gribkowsky's trial, Ecclestone acknowledged making the payment but said he was pressured to do so and Ecclestone has denied any wrongdoing.

Ecclestone's lawyers, Sven Thomas and Norbert Scharf, reiterated in a statement Thursday that "the alleged bribery did not happen," the Associated Press reported.

Earlier Thursday, the Munich state court decided to send Ecclestone's case to trial, which is expected to start in late April.

The Formula One season opens with the Australian Grand Prix on March 16.

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