Bernie Ecclestone could face a new court battle after the German bank at the centre of the Formula One bribery scandal sought access to documents being used in the civil lawsuit against the motorsport chief executive.
BayernLB, which sold its 47.2 per cent stake in F1 in 2005/06 to private equity group CVC, filed the application through its lawyers Linklaters in London’s High Court, where the lawsuit is being heard.
Constantin claims the BayernLB stake, in which it had a commercial interest, was undervalued when sold for $820m.
It alleges Mr Ecclestone and Gerhard Gribkowsky, BayernLB’s former chief risk officer, were engaged in a “corrupt bargain” to undersell the stake in order that the F1 chief executive could stay in control of the sport.
Mr Gribkowsky was last year jailed for eight-and-a-half years after pleading guilty in a court in Munich to accepting $44m of payments from Mr Ecclestone and Bambino, an Ecclestone family trust.
A bank investigation in 2011 into the disposal of the F1 stake initially found nothing untoward in the sale process and that the price obtained was in line with expectations.
But in the aftermath of Mr Gribkowsky’s conviction, the bank wrote to Mr Ecclestone’s lawyers demanding $400m in damages.
The Constantin lawsuit is likely to end in the next couple of weeks and a ruling from the presiding judge, Mr Justice Newey, is expected early in the new year. The judge is expected to hear BayernLB’s application next week.
During the Constantin hearing, which is into its fifth week, Philip Marshall, Constantin’s QC, said the media group was likely to take a neutral position on BayernLB’s application.
Robert Miles QC, for Mr Ecclestone, said the F1 chief executive’s lawyers were “obviously considering the application at the moment”.
Mr Ecclestone is joined in the Constantin lawsuit by other defendants Bambino and Stephen Mullens, trust adviser. They all deny the claims.
The F1 chief executive is awaiting a decision on whether he faces criminal proceedings in Germany after being indicted on bribery allegations in July.
Swiss prosecutors have also launched a criminal investigation into the circumstances of the $44m payments to Mr Gribkowsky. A lawsuit has also been filed in the US by a private equity group claiming Mr Ecclestone conspired to prevent it from purchasing F1 in 2005.
BayernLB was not immediately able to provide comment.
Additional reporting by Chris Bryant
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