Formula One star Fernando Alonso’s racing team DriveX faces court battle in row over aborted £300,000 sponsorship deal with neurosurgeon
- Dr James Akinwunmi is claiming £240,000 after aborted car sponsorship deal
- He worked for firm connecting ‘commercial brands with sporting teams’
- Dr Akinwunmi says he is owed the money over a deal with Alonso backed team
Two-time Formula One star Fernando Alonso’s racing team has been dragged into a British courtroom battle today – as a doctor accused DriveX of forging a £300,000 contract.
Dr James Akinwunmi claims he is owed £240,000 following an aborted car sponsorship deal involving Spanish racing team Drivex – which is backed by Alonso.
Cayman Islands-based consultant neurosurgeon Dr Akinwunmi worked for consultation service Axon, which connects ‘commercial brands with sporting teams’.
The doctor claims Axon had paid the euros equivalent of £130,000 to Drivex in 2019 as a first installment in a £303,000 deal to sponsor South African driver Callan O’Keeffe.
Dr Akinwunmi now alleges offences of perverting the course of justice and forgery against Drivex, Callan O’Keeffe, his father Sean O’Keeffe, Drivex director Miguel Angel de Castro and employee Maria Catarineu.
Racer O’Keeffe competed for Drivex’s team ‘FA (Fernando Alonso) Racing by Drivex’ in four races of the 2019 Formula Renault Eurocup Championship at Monza, Silverstone, Monaco and the Paul Ricard circuit.
Drivex had announced it would expand into the Formula Renault Eurocup championship in collaboration with the FA Racing outfit in November 2018.
Dr James Akinwunmi is claiming £240,000 after aborted car sponsorship deal
Row is over a sponsorship deal involving racing team Drivex, which is backed by Alonso
But it is claimed that after the payment was made on April 1, they told Dr Akinwunmi they would not be using Axon’s logos and terminated their association.
The three-way contract between O’Keefe, Drivex and Dr Akinwunmi for ‘Advertising Spaces on Racing Car and Racing Apparel’ was never signed.
In proceedings before the High Court a contract between O’Keeffe and Drivex, excluding Dr Akunwunmi, was submitted as evidence that they had agreed to work together without him.
But in July 2020 a judge ruled the English court lacked jurisdiction in the dispute over the money, saying it should have been heard in a Spanish court.
The judge ordered Dr Akinwunmi to pay Euro £130,000 and £22,500 in costs, on top of his own £32,656 legal bill.
But Dr Akinwunmi now alleges offences of perverting the course of justice and forgery against Drivex, Callan O’Keeffe, his father Sean O’Keeffe, Drivex director Miguel Angel de Castro and employee Maria Catarineu.
Callan O’Keeffe and father Sean maintain that the issue should be dealt with by Spanish courts
Dr Akinwunmi claims he is now at least £240,000 out of pocket from the lost £130,000, legal fees and damages.
The alleged conspiracy was over whether there was a contract between Drivex and O’Keefe showing they had a direct agreement, excluding Dr Akunwunmi, which was illegally backdated.
The doctor claims that the contract, which purports to be dated to March 2019, was not in fact signed by O’Keeffe until May.
The allegations are made in a court document submitted to the High Court by Dr Akinwunmi’s company Axon Ltd in November 2020.
It claims on May 21, 2019, the driver was pressured to backdate the contract, which he did, adding in the email he sent with it: ‘Attached is the contract re-dated to 18 March 2019 as requested, signed by me today’.
The claim is that the date on the front of the contract, reading ‘March 18, 2019’, was not amended to when it was signed in May.
Dr Akinwunmi is claiming £240,000 in court costs, additional damages for ‘unlawful means conspiracy’ and the 1 July 2020 decision on jurisdiction to be ‘set aside’.
Callan O’Keeffe and his father Sean maintain that the issue should be dealt with in the Spanish courts, according to court documents.
In their defence, filed with the court, Callan and Sean deny that either were party to the agreement as alleged and denied participation in the alleged conspiracy.
It also denies the allegations of forgery.
The defence suggests that the claimant has failed to identify any concerted action allegedly taken by Sean in relation to the contract.
The document also claims Axon has failed to identify any loss or damage caused by the alleged concerted actions of the defendants.
MailOnline understands that DriveX is yet to file a defence but has been approached for comment.
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