LONDON: Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone was accused of striking a “corrupt bargain” in a bid to maintain his grip on the sport, at the start of a hearing in London’s High Court last week.
A German media group, Constantin Medien, which claims it lost out in a deal to sell the Formula One group, has launched legal action against the 83-year-old British tycoon and three other defendants.
Swiss prosecutors announced last week they were opening their own probe into the issue, in the latest challenge to Ecclestone’s authority in a sport he had helped turn into a billion-dollar business.
Ecclestone was not in court but is expected to give evidence this week.
The key charge leveled against him is that in 2005 he paid $44 million in bribes to a German banker to engineer the sale of Formula One to current owners CVC Capital Partners. A lawyer representing the German media group told the High Court that Ecclestone entered into the “corrupt agreement” with a banker to facilitate the sale of the Formula One group to a buyer “chosen” by him.
Constantin is seeking more than $100 million in damages.