London, Feb 20: Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has won a $144 million damages case against German media company Constantin Medien over the sale of sport in 2005. A judge at the London High Court, however, said the deal was “corrupt”.
Constantin Medien, a former F1 shareholder, had sued Ecclestone for the multi million amount claiming the sale of F1 shares to investment group CVC Capital Partners was undervalued.
The London High Court ruled Tuesday that Constantin Medien did not lose out in the deal but Ecclestone did bribe the now jailed German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky for facilitating the sale with a buyer of the 83-year-old’s choice. Ecclestone is also facing a trial in Germany over bribery charges, the BBC reported.
Delivering the judgment at the High Court, Justice Newey said: “No loss to Constantin has been shown to have been caused by the corrupt arrangement. That fact is fatal to the claim.”
On the bribe Ecclestone paid to Gribkowsky, the judge said in a written document: “The payments were a bribe. They were made because Mr Ecclestone had entered into a corrupt agreement with Dr Gribkowsky on 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.”
Ecclestone, who has ruled F1 for almost four decades, claims he made the payments as he was being threatened by the banker.
His trial in Germany will begin in April.