Investigation into Wolff's Aston Martin shares 'unlikely'

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An investigation into possible irregularities concerning the purchase of shares in Aston Martin Lagonda by Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff in April 2020 is understood to be highly unlikely to proceed due to a lack of evidence, according to latest reports from the British Financial Times newspaper.

It had been reported that the team principal was under scrutiny by British stock market authorities for potential insider trading after taking a five per cent stake in the legendary sportscar manufacturer controlled by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll.

Canada's Journal de Montreal reported that the German stock market regulatory body BaFin had conducted an initial investigation into the transaction, and transferred the case to the UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for further action as the original purchase was made on the London exchange.

But BaFin has now stated that it had found nothing warranting an insider trading investigation into the deal, Wolff, or the shares of Mercedes parent company Daimler which also owns a minority stake in Aston Martin..

“I can confirm that BaFin looked into the transaction with regard to possible suspicions of insider trading," a spokesperson said on Tuesday. "But it did not find any evidence."

Although the FCA has yet to comment publicly, the FT reported that a person familiar with the matter had confirmed to them that the financial watchdog has also found no evidence to warrant pursuing a full in-depth probe.

Daimler and Aston Martin did not immediately respond to out-of-hours requests for comment from the media.

Wolff's purchase of a stake in Aston Martin came the same month that Aston Martin confirmed it would return to Formula 1 competition with a rebranding of the existing Racing Point team owned by a consortium led by Stroll.

It was followed a few weeks later by the appointment of former Mercedes AMG head Tobias Moers as its CEO, and then by Daimler announcing it would raise its stake in Aston Martin to 20 per cent over the next three years in exchange for technology sharing.

These developments raised the value of Wolff's shares, with the price of Aston martin shares now 60 per cent higher than they were in April 2020. A rights issue has since reduced Wolff's investment to a 0.95 per cent holding.

The Austrian stated emphatically that he had been given no advance knowledge of either plan at the time when he made the original purchase.

A spokesperson for Mercedes F1 told the FT that “all relevant disclosures were made to the UK financial authorities at the appropriate time”.

Asked about the possibility of an investigation into the original shares purchase, the team replied that "We are not aware of any such action".

The newspaper additionally commented that Wolff did not acquire or trade any Daimler shares or securities last year.

As well as being team principal, Wolff is a significant minority shareholder in the Mercedes F1 team with Daimler and chemical giant INEOS.

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