November 21, 2014 / 10:58 AM / 4 years ago

Caterham administrator to probe ex-management

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Caterham’s former management will be investigated by administrators once the stricken Formula One team’s fate is decided in the next few weeks, administrator and acting team principal Finbarr O’Connell said on Friday.

Caterham Formula One driver Kamui Kobayashi of Japan drives out from the pits during final practice ahead of the British Grand Prix at the Silverstone Race Circuit, central England, July 5, 2014. REUTERS/Paul Hackett

O’Connell, speaking at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, told reporters he had a duty to probe how Caterham was run before he was called in last month.

“I’m clearly trying to sell the business, but another thing I have to do is investigate how the business was run, and anybody who has run it improperly or who owes it money, I have a duty to investigate them,” he said.

“If I think they’ve been guilty of an offence ... then I am supposed to pursue them and get money back for the creditors.

“I’m just getting all the papers and documents together and my lawyers and accounting team are going through those.

“So that is a different phase, but a number of people have said to me they really believe things have gone on here that need to be investigated.”

The team entered Formula One in 2010 with Malaysian aviation entrepreneur Tony Fernandes at the helm, but he lost interest after they failed to score a point in four seasons.

A sale was announced last July to a mystery group of Swiss and Middle Eastern investors, with Colin Kolles serving as consultant.

O’Connell, an unlikely principal even in a sport that has seen a colorful cast of characters down the decades, said Caterham had about three weeks to find a buyer if they were to have a chance of competing next season.

Work on the 2015 car ceased when Caterham went into administration.

Replacing his usual business suit with team uniform for the first grand prix he has ever attended, O’Connell said 50 approaches had been whittled down to four serious ones.

“(For) some of them it makes complete sense, if it ever makes sense for anybody to buy a Formula One team,” said the 54-year-old from County Leitrim, who is more a fan of rugby and cycling than motorsport.

“The others are more in the (category of) you want to be an owner in the most exclusive club in the world.”

O’Connell expected the 1MRT shares to be sold for 1 pound or euro, but any purchaser would have to provide an annual budget of between 60 and 70 million pounds.

Editing by Peter Rutherford

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