Ecclestone wins multi-million fight
Bernie Ecclestone has overturned a $140million damages claim from a German media company after the High Court ruled that he and his co-defendants had not deliberately undervalued Formula 1's commercial rights when they were sold eight years ago.
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The case, which was heard late last year, concerned the rights sale to current controllers CVC Capital Partners in 2006. They acquired them for a total of $2billion, with a 47.1 per cent stake bought from German bank BayernLB.
In turn, Constantin Medien had an agreement with BayernLB entitling it to 10 per cent of the proceeds if the F1 stake sold for more than $1.1bn. However, they received nothing because CVC paid $814m for it.
The company subsequently sued Ecclestone and others in the civil case, claiming they had deliberately undervalued the stake so the 83-year-old could remain at the helm of the sport.
They also claimed that one of the other defendants, former BayernLB Chief Risk Officer Gerhard Gribkowsky, had accepted a $44million bribe from Ecclestone in order for this to happen.
Gribkowsky was jailed in Germany in 2012 for accepting corrupt payments and tax evasion but Ecclestone has always denied offering a bribe, maintaining the money changed hands after Gribkowsky had threatened to make false claims to the UK tax authorities regarding Ecclestone's control of his family's offshore trust Bambino Holdings, also a defendant.
Having subsequently been indicted on bribery charges by prosecutors in Germany, Ecclestone is scheduled to stand trial there in April.