Daimler, Henkel fight over F1 'ghost contract'

FRANKFURT, Dec 14, 2009 (AFP) -Daimler, owner of the Formula One team Brawn GP, is locked in a battle with the chemical group Henkel after one of Henkel's directors signed a ghost sponsoring deal, a press report said on Monday 14 December.

Heidi Klum, face of Taft from the Henkel Group

The former director of sponsoring at Henkel, which makes Persil wash power, signed a contract with Brawn to invest 90 million euros (130 million dollars) over three years from March 2010, the daily Handelsblatt reported.

The only problem was that Henkel's management did not know about the deal.

In addition, for a year and a half, the man, Kai von B., allegedly issued fake outstanding bills using Henkel stationary worth 45 million euros and sold them to firms which try to collect the amounts due.

Eleven million euros of that sum have disappeared, the newspaper said.

Meanwhile, when Daimler bought the Brawn GP team in November and contacted Henkel about the sponsorship deal, the chemicals and cosmetics group realised it was being taken for a ride and fired von B.

An investigation has been launched by prosecutors in the western city of Duesseldof for embezzlement and fraud.

Henkel maintains that the contract is not valid because it was signed without the board's approval, while Daimler's lawyers maintain the former director was authorized to sign such contracts, Handelsblatt said.

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