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Bernie Ecclestone, center, the 83-year-old controlling business magnate in Formula One racing, sits in a car on his way to the regional court in Munich , Germany, Thurstay, April 24, 2014. Ecclestone is charged with bribery and incitement to breach of trust "in an especially grave case" over a US$ 44 million payment to a German banker,

MUNICH (AP) -- Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone rejected accusations of bribery as he went on trial Thursday in a case that could threaten his grip on the sport, telling a Munich court that he was blackmailed by a German banker who received a disputed $44 million payment.

Ecclestone said at the beginning of a four-hour personal statement read out in German by his lawyers that he was "grateful" to be able to give his side of the story -- though he told judges that he would answer questions from the Munich state court through his lawyers, rather than personally.

The 83-year-old Ecclestone is charged with bribery and incitement to breach of trust, and could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted. The charges involve a $44 million payment to banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, who is serving an 8

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F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone goes on trial in Germany F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone goes on trial in Germany F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone goes on trial in Germany F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone goes on trial in Germany
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