According to German newspaper Münchner Merkur Munich-based media group Constantin Medien AG sued Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone, his holding company Bambino and former board member of the Bavarian Regional Bank (BayernLB) Gerhard Gribkowsky for $ 171 million in damages. Reportedly the legal action has been filed at London’s High Court of Justice.
The plaintiff argues that in 2005 BayernLB sold Formula One-shares considerably below market value because Mr. Gribkowski was bribed by Mr. Ecclestone. Constantin estimates the actual value of the sold shares to amount for at least $ 2.8 billion whereas the shares were in fact sold for $ 814 million to their current owner, financial investor CVC. Constantin claims a manipulation of the sale performed by Mr. Gribkowsky cost EM.TV, its legal predecessor, the sum now being asserted because of lost proceeds from agreed-upon profit sharing.
A BayernLB spokesman invoked assessments of both internal and external auditors considered the agreed sale price of the shares as reasonable.
This is not the first time courts find themselves faced with the matter:
Former Chief Risk Officer of BayernLB Gribkowsky is currently being charged by Munich prosecutors with tax evasion, breach of trust and corruption. He allegedly transferred an estimated amount of $ 66 million illegally to the Bambino holding company and Mr. Ecclestone, $ 44 million of which the latter transferred back to Mr. Gribkowsky as a bribe. In return for the payment the Formula One-shares were sold way below value to CVC. Mr. Gribkowsky faces up to 10 years in prison in case of a conviction.
Also 80 year-old Mr. Ecclestone is under investigation for aiding and abetting embezzlement and bribery by Munich prosecutors.