Ecclestone rejects German firm's allegation of corrupt F1 sale

Wed Oct 30, 2013 11:30am EDT
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By Estelle Shirbon

LONDON (Reuters) - A firm's claim for more than $100 million in damages from Bernie Ecclestone is far-fetched and relies on confessions from a jailed banker who is a "fantasist", a lawyer for the Formula One boss argued on Wednesday.

German media firm Constantin Medien alleges that Ecclestone and three other defendants deliberately undervalued Formula One when German bank BayernLB sold its 47 percent stake in the sport to CVC Capital Partners for $830 million in 2005.

Constantin had an interest in the sale and says it lost out as a result of the undervaluation, which it says was a "corrupt bargain" instigated by Ecclestone because he knew CVC would keep him in place as Formula One chief.

Putting forward Ecclestone's version of events on the second day of a civil case at the High Court in London, lawyer Robert Miles said there was no merit in Constantin's claim.

"This is a case that simply does not add up," he said, arguing that Ecclestone would have had no interest in undervaluing Formula One when his family's Bambino Holdings was selling its own 25 percent stake at the same price.

Ecclestone, 83, is to give evidence in person next week.

The case is one of a barrage of legal problems that threaten to end his long reign over Formula One. A German court is to decide next year whether he should be tried for bribery there.

He rejects Constantin's allegation BayernLB was persuaded to sell to CVC at that price because he promised multi-million-dollar bribes to the executive in charge, Gerhard Gribkowsky.   Continued...

Formula One commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone walks in the paddock before the Turkish F1 Grand Prix at the Istanbul Park circuit in Istanbul May 8, 2011. REUTERS/Osman Orsal