Caterham chased in court over unpaid bills


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The Independent Online

The Caterham Formula One team has been ordered to clear nearly £750,000 of debts after failing to pay 34 bills which start at just £424, according to court documents.

The team joined the sport in 2010 but has not scored a single point since then. It has the worst track record of any outfit in the past 20 years.

In July, Tony Fernandes, majority shareholder of Premier League football club Queen’s Park Rangers, sold Caterham to a consortium of Swiss and Middle Eastern investors and since then there have been growing rumours about unpaid bills. They have now been confirmed.

Documents filed with the County Court Registry show 34 unsatisfied judgments against the team’s operating company, Caterham Sports. They come to a total of £745,155 with the largest at £87,120 and the smallest at just £424. The judgments were all made after the change of ownership, with the most recent being £46,164 on 26 September.

Anyone owed money can bring their case before a county court and if it rules they should be paid, a judgment is made in their favour. However, this does not guarantee they will get their money and in such cases bailiffs are called in to seize assets.

On Wednesday bailiffs revealed that they had taken equipment from a raid on Caterham’s factory and published a list of goods they had seized. It includes parts for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, as well as a simulator, steering wheels and a 2013 test car.

Caterham issued a statement that it is proceeding as normal and “the race team is doing its preparation in Japan”. The statement did not refer to the seizure and instead said: “There have been unfounded and unsubstantiated rumours concerning actions against 1MRT, the entrant and owner of Caterham F1.”

1MRT is a Malaysian company which owns Caterham Sports and provides it with management fees to run the team. It employs 276 staff and in July 38 of them were dropped following a series of cuts by the new owners. They issued employment tribunal proceedings the following month, but Caterham in turn said it would take legal action against them for “gross misrepresentation of the facts” in their compensation claim.

Last month the team principal, Christijan Albers, resigned after just two months in charge. Italian Manfredi Ravetto took over Caterham’s driving seat and last week told the official Formula One website: “I think we have done a small miracle to bring it to where it is.”