British government to investigate Formula One payments to Zimbabwe

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F1 is gearing up for today’s US Grand Prix, but the sport has attracted criticism over grants that have ended up much further afield.

Last month the Sunday Express revealed that F1’s regulator, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), has given grants to organisations in Iran, Sudan, Zimbabwe and Syria over the past three years.

The FIA’s grant scheme was established with fees it received from F1.

It drove Human Rights group Waging Peace to call for a Government review, as it believes that oppressive regimes can use racing funded by the grants to promote themselves and signal that they are still “open for business”.

International development minister Lord Bates said: “Information relating to this matter has been received by HM Treasury via its Office for Financial Sanctions Implementation, which is engaging with relevant government agencies as appropriate to ensure the information is properly considered.”

There is no evidence the groups that received grants are owned by their governments.

The legitimacy of the projects or the application process has not been called into question. F1, the teams and drivers play no part in awarding the grants and FIA documents detail the requi rements applicants must meet.

An FIA spokesperson said that all grants are subject to rigorous internal scrutiny.

They added: “We are entirely confident that any investigation would find that the FIA has acted appropriately at all times, and we stand ready and willing to co-operate with any enquiries from the appropriate authorities, although no such requests have been received.”

An F1 spokesperson said: “It is not within our remit to influence or determine how the FIA promotes, develops and regulates motor sport, nor how its funds are applied.

“We are satisfied we are in full compliance with applicable sanctions.” – The Express