French Investigator Examining FIA's Role In $4.4B Sale Of Formula 1
Financial corruption investigators in France "are examining the role played by the world governing body for motor sports" in the $4.4B sale of Formula 1, two people familiar with the inquiry said, according to Tariq Panja of the N.Y. TIMES. Investigators want to know if FIA, which is based in Paris, "had a conflict of interest when it agreed to clear the sale" of F1 to Liberty Media. Accounting for debt, Liberty’s takeover totaled more than $8B, "making it one of the biggest transactions in sports." FIA said in a statement, "We are entirely confident that any investigation would find that the F.I.A. has acted appropriately at all times, and we stand ready and willing to cooperate with any enquiries should any investigation be commenced or clarification sought by the appropriate authorities." Prosecutors from the Parquet National Financier, who have opened "multiple investigations into possible corruption in sports," are looking into the case after the Serious Fraud Office in Britain "started its own preliminary inquiry into the sale," according to people familiar with the case. Investigators' concerns "center on a deal known as the Concorde Agreement" that FIA signed in '13 in its role as the overseer of F1. The accord between racing teams and the owner of the series at the time "allowed the federation to benefit from an increase in annual payments for its role." FIA also received a one-time $5M payment and was allowed to buy a 1% share in F1 for "about 100 times less than its true value" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/18).