Feb.20 (GMM/Inautonews.com) A London court verdict on Thursday was both good and bad news for F1’s embattled chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.
Constantin Medien’s $140 million damages claim was dismissed by the judge, but Justice Guy Newey announced in his verdict that 83-year-old Briton Ecclestone had been “corrupt”.
It is a major blow to Ecclestone, who later this year will face jail, and certainly the end of his long reign over the sport, if found similarly guilty of paying a bribe by German prosecutors during a criminal trial.
“The payments were a bribe,” Thursday’s verdict read, adding that Ecclestone’s agreement with jailed former F1 banker Gerhard Gribkowsky was “corrupt”.
However, Justice Newey dismissed Constantin’s claim, asserting the German company and former F1 shareholder was “no part of Mr Ecclestone’s purpose” in having paid the bribe.
“No loss to Constantin has been shown to have been caused by the corrupt arrangement with Dr Gribkowsky,” he said. “That fact is fatal to the claim.”
But the judge dealt further blows to Ecclestone by saying the 83-year-old was not a “reliable or truthful witness”.
Ecclestone’s lawyers, however, saw the bright side of the verdict, saying the judge had “completely exonerated” the defendants.
Meanwhile, Red Bull’s troubled 2014 campaign seemed finally to get on track on Thursday, when Sebastian Vettel managed dozens of laps in the Renault-powered RB10 in Bahrain.