The Solicitor - The FindLaw UK Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog

'Not truthful' Ecclestone innocent of charges

The High Court in London has cleared Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone of wrongdoing after his corruption trial, but the judge said Mr Ecclestone was 'not reliable or truthful', reports the BBC.

Mr Ecclestone, the founder of Formula One and one of the wealthiest men in the world, was facing charges that he paid a banker to facilitate the sale of Formula One to a buyer for a reduced price.

German media company Constantin Medien was a shareholder in F1 at the time, and argued that the result of Mr Ecclestone and the banker's actions was that they lost out on hundreds of millions of pounds that they would have received if F1 had achieved a proper value.

The High Court found that Mr Ecclestone had indeed bribed a financial official; however, they also found that Constantin Medien had suffered no material loss as a direct result of the bribe, and so dismissed the case against Mr Ecclestone.

Mr Justice Newey said: "No loss to Constantin has been shown to have been caused by the corrupt arrangement. That fact is fatal to the claim."

However, the court found that Mr Ecclestone had paid bribes to German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky in order for the banker to ensure that a sale went ahead to a buyer chosen by Mr Ecclestone.

"The payments were a bribe. They were made because Mr Ecclestone had entered into a corrupt agreement with Dr Gribkowsky on May 2005 under which Dr Gribkowsky was to be rewarded for facilitating the sale of BLB's shares in the F1 Group to a buyer acceptable to Mr Ecclestone," the judge said.

The judge went on to say he found it impossible to regard Mr Ecclestone as a reliable or even truthful witness, before saying that this was after taking into the account the fact that he is 83.

Mr Ecclestone said he was relieved with the ruling.

"I've run the sport for the last 30-odd years and nothing has changed. So if I was unreliable, and whatever, I have been lucky to have been as successful as we have been," he told the BBC.

Constantin said they will appeal the decision.