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Tuesday 23 September 2014

German bank rejects Ecclestone deal

Published 08/08/2014 | 18:00

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A Munich court dropped a bribery case against Bernie Ecclestone connected to the sale of Munich-based bank BayernLB's F1 stake in exchange for a £60m payment

A German bank that once held a major stake in Formula One has rejected Bernie Ecclestone's offer of a 25 million euro (£20 million) settlement in a dispute over the sale of that stake.

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Earlier this week, a Munich court dropped a bribery case against Ecclestone connected to the sale of Munich-based bank BayernLB's F1 stake in exchange for a £60 million payment. After hearing more than three months of evidence, the court said it had serious doubts the F1 boss could be convicted of bribery and incitement to breach of trust.

Separately, BayernLB has been keeping open the option of civil proceedings against the 83-year-old. The bank did preparatory work on a damages claim against Ecclestone late last year, but did not file it.

Ecclestone's lawyers last week offered to pay the public-sector bank £20 million, though they said damage to the company was not evident. The bank said it rejected the offer, without giving reasons, and did not say what its next move might be. The offer expired today.

The charges in the now-closed bribery trial centred on a £26 million payment by Ecclestone to former BayernLB executive Gerhard Gribkowsky, who is serving an eight-and-a-half-year sentence for taking the money. Gribkowsky was convicted of corruption, tax evasion and breach of trust.

Ecclestone denied wrongdoing and said Gribkowsky, who was in charge of selling BayernLB's stake in F1 in 2005, blackmailed him.

In another case related to the sale, German media company and former F1 shareholder Constantin Medien sued Ecclestone and other defendants for up to £85 million, claiming F1 was undervalued at the time of the sale to investment group CVC Capital Partners. The case was dismissed in February, with London's High Court saying the deal was corrupt but Constantin did not lose out.

BayernLB's complaints have involved the valuation of the stake and a £24.4 million commission paid to Ecclestone.

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