Motorsport boss Bernie Ecclestone made a “corrupt bargain” in a bid to stay at the top of Formula One (F1) racing, a German media company has claimed in the High Court.
Mr Ecclestone entered into the “corrupt agreement” with a banker to facilitate the sale of the Formula One Group to a buyer “chosen” by him, a lawyer representing Constantin Medien told Mr Justice Newey. Constantin says it lost out as a result of the deal and has taken legal action against Mr Ecclestone – the chief executive of the Formula One Group.
Mr Ecclestone says Constantin’s claim “lacks any merit” and denies any “conspiracy”. Philip Marshall, QC, for Constantin, outlined the allegations at the High Court.
He said the banker had “assisted” Mr Ecclestone to facilitate the sale of the Formula One Group to a “purchaser chosen by Mr Ecclestone”. Mr Marshall suggested that “corrupt payments” had resulted in a sale of the bank’s investment in a group of firms which owned “lucrative commercial rights” associated with F1 racing.
He said payments totalling about £27m had been made to Gerhard Gribkowsky at the instigation of Mr Ecclestone. Mr Marshall said a “corrupt arrangement” was entered into between Mr Ecclestone and Dr Gribkowsky in 2005.
The hearing continues.