Ecclestone wins multi-million fight over 'corrupt agreement'

Ecclestone wins multi-million fight over 'corrupt agreement'

Formula One motor sport boss Bernie Ecclestone has won a multimillion-pound High Court fight in the UK with a German media company.

A High Court judge ruled on Thursday on the dispute between Mr Ecclestone, 83, and Constantin Medien at a hearing in London.

Mr Justice Newey had reserved judgement following a trial which ran from October to December.

Mr Ecclestone was accused of entering into a ”corrupt agreement” with a banker to facilitate the sale of the Formula 1 Group to a buyer chosen by him.

Constantin Medien said it lost out as a result of the deal and wanted tens of millions of pounds in compensation.

Mr Ecclestone, chief executive of the Formula 1 Group, said Constantin Medien’s claim ”lacked any merit” and denied any conspiracy.

Lawyers for Constantin Medien told the judge that payments totalling about £27m (€32.8m) were made to Gerhard Gribkowsky – who was a ”senior ranking official” at a German bank – at the instigation of Mr Ecclestone.

And they said a ”corrupt arrangement” was entered into between Mr Ecclestone and Dr Gribkowsky in 2005.

Mr Ecclestone gave a different version of events.

He told the judge that he paid Dr Gribkowsky £10m (€12m) because the banker insinuated that he would create difficulties with tax authorities.

Mr Ecclestone is facing trial in Germany later this year after being accused of bribery. Those allegations also centre around claims relating to Dr Gribkowsky.

The judge said the payments made were a "bribe".

He said they were made because Mr Ecclestone had entered into a “corrupt agreement” with Dr Gribkowsky in 2005.

But the judge said Constantin’s claim still failed because it had been “no part” of Mr Ecclestone’s purpose for shares to be sold at an “undervalue”.

“No loss to Constantin has been shown to have been caused by the corrupt arrangement with Dr Gribkowsky,” the judge added.

“That fact is fatal to the claim.”

Mr Ecclestone was not at Thursday’s hearing.

Mr Justice Newey said he had found it "impossible" to regard Mr Ecclestone as a "reliable or truthful witness".

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