Ecclestone faces new investigation as High Court trial begins

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Bernie Ecclestone is standing trial accused of arranging a sale of Formula One in 2005 which was below its market value in order to retain his control of the sport.

Constantin Medien, formerly a stakeholder in F1, has brought the case alleging Ecclestone’s $820m sale to CVC Capital Partners undervalued the property, losing them money. The German media company is seeking over $100m in damages.

Ecclestone, who did not attend the first day of proceedings in London’s High Court yesterday, refutes the charges. He has already been indicted in Germany for paying $44m to jailed banker Gerhard Gribkowsky.

Constantin Medien’s lawyers argued the indictment showed Ecclestone had participated in a “corrupt bargain” but Mr Justice Newey said it was “hard to see about how the indictment can play any role in these proceedings”.

While Ecclestone remains embroiled in legal deliberations in Germany another front in his contests with the courts has opened in Switzerland. An investigation will probe the nature of Ecclestone’s payment to Gribkowsky to judge whether it violated Swiss law.

The cases are being closely watched to see what details of Formula One’s clandestine and labyrinthine finances are revealed, and whether Ecclestone’s position as chief executive officer of Formula One Group is placed in jeopardy. He has previously admitted CVC would “probably have to get rid of me” if he were convicted.