Formula One : Ecclestone 'extortion' rap at FIA chief

Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has claimed he is the victim of 'extortion' by the FIA, the sport's governing body.

Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has claimed he is the victim of 'extortion' by the FIA, the sport's governing body.

FIA president Max Mosley believes Ecclestone owes £41m as a down payment for the television rights to Formula One.

However, Ecclestone has denied the reports.

He said: "Max likes to argue more than I do. These reports are anything but true.

"Max has been trying to do some extortion. He wants the money to be paid immediately, but he has no right to do that."

Ecclestone said his family trust would pay the money when it was due, insisting there was no problem and saying that £34m had been deposited.

However, the FIA's tax problems seem to mean that SLEC - Ecclestone's family trust - were not sure whether to pay into accounts in France, the United Kingdom or elsewhere.

The five big European carmakers in Formula One - Renault, Jaguar, BMW, Mercedes and Fiat, who own Ferrari - are said to be bidding to share control of the sport with Ecclestone, who has tied up television rights until 2010.

However, Mosley has thrown down the gauntlet by giving Ecclestone a deadline for the first part of £247m owed to the FIA and threatening to hand over the lucrative rights to someone else.

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