UK judge finds 'untruthful' Ecclestone paid bribes
By Estelle Shirbon
LONDON (Reuters) - A British judge found on Thursday that Bernie Ecclestone had paid bribes to a German banker as part of a "corrupt agreement" linked to the 2005 sale of a stake in Formula One - an issue at the heart of Ecclestone's forthcoming bribery trial in Germany.
The British court ruling went in favor of the Formula One boss in that it dismissed a German firm's claim for damages from him, but it contained damning conclusions about the 83-year-old who has dominated the motor racing business for decades.
The judgment by the London High Court added to Ecclestone's legal woes ahead of his criminal trial, scheduled to start in Munich in April, over the same events dating back to 2005.
"I am afraid that I find it impossible to regard him (Ecclestone) as a reliable or truthful witness," Judge Guy Newey, who had heard oral evidence from Ecclestone during the civil trial, wrote in his judgment.
Ecclestone told Reuters by telephone that he was pleased the damages claim against him had been dismissed and he disagreed with what the judge had said.
"He's come up with an opinion, he thought I didn't tell the truth and I wasn't reliable. I was reliable because I turned up on time. I think I answered truthfully the questions I was asked," he said.
The trial stemmed from a claim for more than $100 million in damages against Ecclestone and others connected to him, brought by German media company Constantin Medien.
Constantin had alleged that a controlling stake in Formula One held by German bank BayernLB had been undervalued when it was sold to private equity fund CVC as a result of a "corrupt bargain" between Ecclestone and former BayernLB banker Gerhard Gribkowsky. Continued...