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Decision on Ecclestone trial in Germany postponed
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Darren Heath
Posted By: James Allen  |  20 Sep 2013   |  12:26 pm GMT  |  15 comments

Bernie Ecclestone, F1′s commercial boss, will have to wait until next year to learn whether he will face trial on bribery charges.

Ecclestone was indicted in July on charges relating to the conviction of Gerhard Gribkowsky for bribery and breach of fiduciary trust over the sale of F1 in 2006. At the time the court said it would announce in mid September its next move.

But the court announced today that it was delaying a decision on whether to pursue a case against Ecclestone as it pondered new submissions from Ecclestone’s lawyers and while a change of judge takes place.

The statement from the Munich court said, “The defendants of the accused have announced further comprehensive submissions that should be waited for. Taking that into consideration as well as an imminent change of judge in the relevant chamber, a decision on opening the case cannot any longer be expected this year.”

They will no doubt also be keen to wait and see what arises from the next legal challenge Ecclestone faces, a case which has been brought by German media group Constantin Medien for damages of around $170 million, also relating to the valuation of F1 when it was sold to CVC in 2006.

This trial starts in London on October 28th and is due to run for six weeks.

The court in London recently ordered the released of hundreds of documents relating to this sale and both Ecclestone and CVC boss Duncan Mackenzie are expected to testify.

Ecclestone has always denied bribing Gribkowsky, claiming that the $44 million payment made to the German banker was a ‘shakedown’ as Gribkowsky had threatened to tell the UK Inland Revenue about his tax affairs.

Meanwhile CVC is believed to be lining up a bid of around $2 billion in an auction for sports marketing giant IMG. CVC is acting in partnership with Bahraini investment vehicle Mumtalakat, which is a shareholder in McLaren.

There is speculation that with a floatation of F1 looking increasingly unlikely as Ecclestone’s legal situation drags on, CVC may be looking at a different strategy for realising the value of its F1 holding by linking it with the IMG portfolio. IMG also has extensive sports administration experience.

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15 Comments
  1. Sebee says:

    Teflon – Ecclestone!

  2. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

    Something ironic that the pending legal action is effectively keeping the price down and stalling a big bucks return sale.

    Would be nice if more of the cash could have been put back into the sport. The midfield teams look more than ever like they really need support, such as Sauber, Force India, Williams. Even the front-midfield teams like Lotus and dare I say McLaren could do with a boost. Anything that ensures they stay in the mix and can sometimes race against the big three. Plus I hate the concept of big money pay drivers taking both seats in a team. The upcoming talent, with little cash primarily because of their nationality, don’t stand a chance in the current sponsors’ financial climate…

  3. Dale says:

    Money talks!

    1. TJ says:

      Doesn’t talk in the German judicial system, although it might delay the inevitable…

      1. Dale says:

        Money always (always) talks, we;ll all see :)

    2. Kaz says:

      +1. Can other smell it?

  4. Youngslinger says:

    Lawyers earning their vast fees, it seems.

  5. JensonsUndersteer says:

    Bernard will come out smelling of roses I think. Bernie will be loving this attention Formula One will be getting – in his opinion all publicity is good publicity. I’m sure with all his money he has team around him to succeed!!

  6. TJ says:

    Didn’t see where the delay was quantified to next year.

    My understanding that staff changes along with (I strongly suspect delaying tactics by Ecclestone’s lawyers) new but late submissions by Ecclestone.

    Was there mention of next year??

  7. Chris Severin says:

    Something I’ve always wondered about this story whenever it comes up is – have the UK Inland Revenue yet started looking into the tax affairs that he so wanted to not be looked into?

    1. Clark says:

      Good question and it got me thinking too. I had a scoot around and found the following courtesy of Mr Google. It looks like the answer is yes!

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/industry/9950319/Ecclestone-the-French-race-circuit-and-the-real-story-behind-that-44m-bribe.html

      Ecclestone was notified in March 2012 that HMRC in the UK is currently investigating his tax affairs focusing primarily on his connections directly and indirectly to offshore trusts.

      “HMRC has informed Mr Ecclestone that the investigation is being conducted in accordance with Code of Practice 8.

      “This is applied in cases where there is no suspicion of tax evasion, but instead HMRC wishes to investigate if any tax planning undertaken by a taxpayer is effective to achieve its intended effect.

      “The purpose of the investigation is to identify if there are any amounts of underpaid tax.”

  8. Elie says:

    I suspect there will always be a ” party ” of sorts going in around Bernie- even when he’s no longer with us. I’m sure most have seen the movie “Weekend At Bernies”

  9. El Diablo says:

    Censored again. Can’t talk about F1 money laundering here. Pathetic.

    1. James Allen says:

      Why should we allow you to libel people on our site? No sensible site would clear comments like that

      Start your own website and libel people on it and the best of luck to you!

      1. El Diablo says:

        Good on you Mr. Allen for allowing the post.
        Last time i checked, wondering whether anyone has dug into a potential situation is not grounds for libel. Besides, Mr. Ecclestone may yet have his day in court as your article suggests. In all one fears that all most professional sport is fertile ground for money laundering. Wish that it were not so but when financials aren’t published and millions are sloshed about…well its hardly us common folk who have our lives scrutinzed to the enth degree when going to the bank who indulge in soapy funds.

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