DECEMBER 22, 1997

Van Rossem goes to jail

JEAN-PIERRE VAN ROSSEM, the former boss of the Moneytron Onyx Formula 1 team, has been jailed for five years for fraud. The eccentric Belgian ran into trouble with investors when his Moneytron financial empire collapsed. He was originally condemned by a Belgian court in 1995 but avoided going to prison by pursuing a variety of different appeal processes. His final appeal has now been rejected and, in addition to the prison term, Van Rossem will have to pay damages of nearly $30m to his former customers.

Van Rossem used some of the money from the Moneytron scheme to fund the Onyx team in 1989. In midseason he bought the team but so upset the team management that they abandoned him at the end of that year. In March 1990 he sold the operation to another eccentric, Swiss Peter Monteverdi but it was closed down in August that year because of unpaid bills.

Van Rossem joins an unhealthy list of former F1 team bosses who have been despatched to penal establishments, notably Ligier's Cyril de Rouvre, Brabham's Joachim Luhti and Ted Ball, Didier Calmels of Larrousse and Leyton House's Akira Akagi. Another Larrousse director Klaus Walz avoided imprisonment by being gunned down by police after a nine-hour siege in a German hotel in November 1992.