Prosecutors in Munich have charged Formula One CEO Bernie Ecclestone with paying a $44 million bribe to a German banker, DPA news agency said Wednesday.

Ecclestone, 82, is accused of bribing Gerhard Gribkowsky, who managed BayernLB bank's 47 percent stake in F1.

Convicted last year of corruption, tax evasion and breach of trust, Gribkowsky is currently serving a prison term of 8 1/2 years.

Gribkowsky, a director of publically owned BayernLB, was tasked in 2006 with handling the sale of the bank's Formula One stake, an assignment that brought him into contact with Ecclestone, the billionaire Briton who turned F1 into a major money-maker.

Ecclestone, who acknowledged at Gribkowsky's trial that he paid the banker, was anxious to see BayernLB sell its piece of F1 to CVC Capital Partners, an investment group.

CVC, which has owned F1's commercial rights since 2006, kept Ecclestone on as chief executive of the sport.

Besides accepting money from Ecclestone, Gribkowsky dipped into BayernLB's funds to pay the F1 boss a commission of $41.4 million, according to German prosecutors.

Ecclestone claims that Gribkowsky demanded money.

Prosecutors, however, say Ecclestone knew Gribkowsky was a civil servant and that giving him money would be a violation of German law. EFE