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Questionable past acquisitions aside, you don't get to be as large and successful as BMW without having some business acumen. That assumption, however, is being cast into question as reports out of Germany suggest that the Bavarian automaker may have been duped in its sale of the Sauber F1 racing team.

Peter Sauber's eponymous racing team joined the F1 grid in 1993, and raced for a dozen seasons independently before BMW bought the team in 2005. But earlier this year, the German automaker announced it would withdraw from the sport, leaving Sauber to look for a new investor. A mysterious Swiss finance firm called Qadbak Investments stepped up, and the sale was completed. Having missed the deadline to re-commit for 2010, however, Sauber was replaced by newcomer Lotus, but since Toyota vacated its position, Sauber has been waiting on the FIA to give them the go-ahead. And now we're starting to understand the FIA's hesitance.

According to emerging reports, it appears that Qadbak – which also recently acquired the Notts County football team in England and was supposedly backed by a couple of reclusive, wealthy Middle Eastern families – is little more than a string of shell companies for a convicted British fraudster based in Dubai. Apparently Russell King, the fraudster at the end of the Qadbak paper trail, was trying to tap into the shared F1 revenue streams split between the teams in the series. Having finished sixth in the constructors' championship this season, the Sauber team would be entitled to a considerable slice of the pie.

The revelation raises more questions than it answers, but we're expecting the whole picture to come into focus over the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

[Source: SonntagsZeitung via Axis of Oversteer]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      According to some reports, Qadbak was not planning to bring any major investments in the Hinwil based team for its 2010 operations, but rely on the prize money for the outfit's 6th place in the manufacturers standings.

      Approx 40 Million Euros!!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Go Thiessen!
      • 5 Years Ago
      looks like Frank Willams was right in blocking the team from a guaranteed grid entry. he was one of the few that stood it it's way because he was leery about the investor, looks like his suspicions were correct.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wear it!
      • 5 Years Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      What am I missing here? Bimmer sold out of Sauber to this conman putz, but it turns out he's a fraud---but BMW still sold their F1 operation and got paid for it.

      So, unless BMW is standing there at their neighborhood branch of the First National Bank of Munich, trying to explain to the nice teller why the ten million dollar (?) check they tried to deposit just bounced, what's the problem for BMW?

      They sold, the got paid, end of story, right?

      It sounds like the only ones in trouble at the moment---aside from the fraud dork---is Sauber, having been acquired fraudulently, and then anyone they're currently doing business with, ie: the FIA and F1 as a member team.

      I haven't had my morning coffee yet: how did BMW get hoodwinked?

      • 5 Years Ago
      Great to see even a major corporation are not immune from a great con. Gotto give it to the guy, he sure got some balls. So what actually will happened to Sauber F1 next year?
      • 5 Years Ago
      I am a fan of Thiessen - what a great hard-working character. Same for Sauber. I hope they are both in F1 in 2010!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Looks like the engine building department will be sold to McLaren now.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Glad to see they figured out what is going on with that Investment group; but like Mr. Roarke, I'm not sure how BMW got "hoodwinked." As long as they got paid real money, it's not a big deal in the end for them, except for the slight publicity loss from selling to a shiester.
      • 5 Years Ago
      To defraud is fun for a season; then you will face your maker.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I really am a fan of Thiessen. What a great, super hard working guy. And same for Sauber. I hope they are in F1 next year!