Ecclestone Says U.S. Law Can’t Apply in Formula One Case
By Linda Sandler - Feb 7, 2013 8:56 AM ET
Bernie Ecclestone, accused in a New York court of paying a bribe to steer a Formula One racing stake to CVC Capital Partners Ltd., said he has never resided in the U.S. and isn’t subject to U.S. law.
Since 2005, the Formula One chief executive officer has visited the U.S. eight times, including trips to investigate the possibility of a racing event in New York or New Jersey and a family trip to Las Vegas, he said in a Jan. 31 court filing in Manhattan. He owns no U.S. property, leases no offices and employs nobody in the country, except for lawyers defending him in the lawsuit, he said. Nor did any actions alleged in the lawsuit occur in the U.S., he said.
“The various events underlying the allegations in the complaint did not take place in New York or the United States, but in Europe and the Middle East,” Ecclestone said in an affidavit filed in New York State Supreme Court.
The lawsuit by Bluewaters Communications Holdings LLC seeks $650 million for an alleged diversion of the sale of a stake in the company to a lower bidder.
Bluewaters, a New York-based financial firm, alleged that Ecclestone paid a $44 million bribe to BayernLB director Gerhard Gribkowsky to steer to CVC the 47 percent stake previously owned by BayernLB, which kept him on as head of F1. Bluewaters was the “high bidder,” willing to pay $1 billion at the time, the firm said in a Nov. 16 filing.
Ecclestone said his payments, arranged and made outside the U.S., were unrelated to the sale to CVC. Rather, they were made to buy the silence of Gribkowsky over potential U.K. tax liabilities related to a trust, he said in the filing.
The case is Bluewaters v. Ecclestone, 653965/2012, Supreme Court of New York (Manhattan).
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