Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has won a High Court case regarding the 2005 sale of the championship’s commercial rights despite the court ruling the deal to have been corrupt.
German media company Constantin Medien, a former F1 stakeholder, had sued Ecclestone for up to $160 million AUD with regard to the alleged undervalued sale of the sport’s rights to CVC Capital Partners nine years ago.
The 83-year-old was also accused of entering into a “corrupt agreement” with a banker during the sale of the rights.
The London court ruled on Thursday that Constantin Medien did not lose out directly in the sale but that the deal was corrupt.
Judge Guy Newey said in his conclusion that Ecclestone had paid a bribe to German banker Gerhard Gribkowslky, who was recently jailed for eight and a half years for corruption.
His sentence is the result of a $50 million AUD payment he received from Ecclestone at the time of the sale.
”The payments were a bribe,” judge Newey ruled.
“They were made because Mr Ecclestone had entered into a corrupt agreement with Dr Gribkowsky in May 2005 under which Dr Gribkowsky was to be rewarded for facilitating the sale of BLB’s shares in the Formula One group to a buyer acceptable to Mr Ecclestone,” judge Guy Newey said in his conclusions.
“It was no part of Mr Ecclestone’s purpose…..to be sold at an undervalue.”
Court proceedings will continue for Ecclestone when he stands trial in Germany, where he faces charges of bribery and incitement to breach of trust connected with the payment to Gribkowsky.
The trial will begin on April 24, concluding on September 16.
Ecclestone stood down from his role on the Formula 1 board last month when details surrounding his trial were revealed, although continues to have a day-to-day involvement in the sport’s commercial dealings.