Ecclestone must wait as judge reserves judgment in £27m bribery trial

Bernie Ecclestone

A High Court judge has reserved judgment in Bernie Ecclestone's £27 million bribery trial which ended on Friday, while a German bank has won access to court documents as it prepares a £246 damages claim against the F1 boss. (See related rumor)

Lawyers acting for BayernLB, the state-owned German bank which is preparing a $400 million (£246 million) damages lawsuit against Bernie Ecclestone, will have access to documents from the High Court trial that ended on Friday after an agreement was reached on the final day.

In the seven-week trial, brought by German media firm Constantin Medien, Ecclestone was accused of making a “corrupt bargain" with banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, allegedly paying him $44 million (£27 million) in bribes to undervalue BayernLB’s stake in the sport when it was sold to present owners CVC Capital Partners.

On the final day Phillip Marshall QC, for the claimant, argued that Ecclestone was motivated by a wish to secure his position as head of Formula One and “get rid of the banks’ involvement".

After seven weeks of hearing evidence, Mr. Justice Newey said he was reserving judgment. He is expected to take several weeks to consider the evidence. His judgment will hinge on whether he is persuaded that the shares were indeed undervalued as a result of Ecclestone’s actions.

Ecclestone does not deny paying Gribkowsky money but claims that he was “shaken down" by the German who was threatening to cause trouble for him with the UK tax authorities.

Speaking to the BBC’s Newsnight program on Thursday, Emily Thornberry, the shadow Attorney General, called again for the Serious Fraud Office to look into Ecclestone’s financial affairs.

Ecclestone, who has been indicted in Germany on charges of bribery, is still waiting to hear whether he also faces a criminal trial in Munich next year.

Meanwhile, Sauber have confirmed the signing of Adrian Sutil for 2014.

Sutil has effectively switched seats with Nico Hulkenberg, who has moved in the opposite direction to Force India. The identity of Sauber’s second driver has not yet been revealed. Telegraph