Today Suddeutsche.de reports the following.
The German Bank – Bayern LB – that once held the commercial rights to F1 and paid Bernie Ecclestone 41million Euro’s in commission to find a buyer – is looking to recover its money.
We now know this money actually just circulated on to Gerhard Gribkowsky, a board member of Bayern LB, who was apparently tasked by Ecclestone to ensure the bank sell to Mr. Ecclestone’s client – CVC. On conclusion of this deal Gibkowsky received an alleged $44m from for his troubles from Mr. Ecclestone but he is now serving nearly 9 years in a German jail for his part in the collusion. His conviction is for participating in bribery.
Bayern LB have applied to see the records of the Munich prosecutors who won the Gibkowsky conviction saying, “We are preparing everything to make possible damage claims.” The prosecutors are apparently more than inclined to offer these files up, however, it appears lawyers for Mr. Ecclestone have sought an injunction with the Munich District Court to prevent this.
This may not be the only troubles on the horizon for Mr. Ecclestone, as representatives of Ruth Kirch, widow of the late media tycoon Leo Kirch, also wish to lodge a half a billion dollar lawsuit against Mr. Ecclestone. Kirch used to be the main shareholder of the F1 commercial rights before entering into loan arrangements with Bayern LB offering the rights as collateral.
In effect Kirch argues due to the collusion between Ecclestone and Gibkowsky, the rights were sold to Ecclestone’s client CVC for significantly less than market value. This affected how much the bank received against the Kirch collateral and may have left Kirch short some $400-500m.
Again the German prosecutors agree there is a case to be heard and again Ecclestone’s lawyers have lodged an injunction to prevent the files from being opened.
It appears the prosecutors also wish to issue an indictment against Mr. Ecclestone for his alleged part in the bribery and this may be not too far distant.
One wonders whether the FIA will ever investigate the original sale of the F1 commercial rights by their former head, Max Moseley, to Bernie Ecclestone. The deal was reputedly for 99 years and cost about $3m a year. Talk about selling your birthright for a pot of stew.
Update: Since writing this article (25/9/12) it is reported Gobkowsky will testify against Ecclestone. Further, lawyers for the F1 supremo have allegedly offered a settlement that does not include custody time in exchange for money. The Munich prosecuters are not willing to accept a deal as the charge is likely to be bribing a public official.
Is it me or is it beyond irony that that cash is offered to settle a bribery charge!
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