Serious Fraud Office (SFO) Director David Green has promised to carry out a 'thorough examination' of bribery allegations in Formula 1 after the matter was raised by an MP.
The SFO is examining whether the Concorde Implementation Agreement, which is at the heart of FI’s business dealings, breaches the Bribery Act.
The agreement, signed by F1's governing body, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), and rights holder Formula One World Championship (FOWC), establishes how F1’s rules are created. It was changed four years ago, with the four smallest racing teams losing votes at the expense of the top six teams, the FIA and FOWC.
Under the revised agreement, the FIA was to be paid £4 million for signing up to it. Damian Collins MP, chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, wrote to the SFO to ask whether this payment could be considered bribery.
In his reply, the SFO Director says its Intelligence Unit is “following this issue very closely’’ and carrying out a “thorough examination of the facts in order to determine whether or not there are suspected offences that on reasonable grounds involve serious or complex fraud’’.
Certainly, the SFO will not rush into any snap judgements about the possibility of any wrongdoing. And while it is investigating the matter, all parties involved in the agreement need to look carefully at their actions, anticipate the SFO’s line of questioning and formulate their responses.
They may well need legal assistance, as responding to SFO investigators produces its own unique challenges.