Formula One Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone has been indicted by German prosecutors for alleged bribery, a spokesman for a Munich court has said.

Ecclestone has been under investigation since a German banker was convicted of taking an illegal payment from him worth $44m in connection with the sale of a stake in Formula One.

The indictment has been sent out, charging the 82-year-old Briton with bribery and breach of trust, the spokesman said on Wednesday.  

Ecclestone told the Munich state court he felt pressured into paying the cash in 2006 because he was worried that Gerhard Gribkowsky would report him to British tax authorities.

Ecclestone told the AP news agency that his lawyers "have accepted an indictment. It means they have to reply to the indictment which they are strenuously doing".

Ecclestone confirmed that the prosecutors are "alleging I bribed someone" but said he did "nothing illegal".

Ecclestone remains central to the motor racing business he built into a global money-spinner and the chief is a familiar figure at its races. He has always said he has no plans to retire and there is no obvious successor in place.

Source: Agencies