Bernie Ecclestone has won the latest of his legal battles related to the Gribkowsky Affair – in this instance a damages suit brought against him in the High Court in London by the German media company Constantin Medien, a former owner of the F1 Group.
Constantin claimed to have lost out over the sale of F1 to CVC in 2006, and was suing for $140m.
Also included in their action was Ecclestone lawyer Stephen Mullens, family trust Bambino Holdings, and jailed banker Gerhard Gribkowksy. It was alleged that they had conspired to undervalue F1, while Constantin had a contract entitling it to a percentage of sale price, above a certain threshold.
The victory comes ahead of what it is likely to be a tougher legal battle for Ecclestone in Germany in the coming weeks, where he has been charged by the authorities.
Mr. Justice Newey said: “The payments were a bribe. 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 F1 Group to a buyer acceptable to Mr. Ecclestone.
“Mr. Ecclestone’s aim was to be rid of the banks. He was strongly averse to their involvement in the F1 Group and was keen that their shares should be transferred to someone more congenial to him.”
However, the key finding was: “No loss to Constantin has been shown to have been caused by the corrupt arrangement. That fact is fatal to the claim.”
He added: “Even […] making allowances for the lapse of time and Mr. Ecclestone’s age, I am afraid that I find it impossible to regard him as a reliable or truthful witness.”
Constantin plans to appeal against the verdict.Bernie Ecclestone, Formula 1