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]