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.