Bernie Ecclestone trial dropped by German court after £60m payment is accepted
The F1 chief went on trial in April on charges of bribery and incitement to breach of trust but is now a free man
Racing supremo Bernie Ecclestone has had his bribery trial thrown out by a German court after all parties agreed that he should made a $100million (£60million) payment.
The Formula One boss, 83, has had the proceedings against him dropped today after he made a cash offer to a Munich court, believed to be the largest of its kind.
Under German law, a case can be stopped and charges withdrawn if a fine or community work is offered, as long as the “gravity of guilt” does not stand in the way.
A move such as this does not presume guilt.
Court spokesman, Andrea Titz, said that the evidence thus far meant that “the court did not consider a conviction overwhelmingly likely from the present point of view.”
“There was no conclusion on guilt or innocence of the defendant. He is leaving this courtroom a free man,” she added.
The decision by the court comes three months after the trial commenced, when Ecclestone began fighting claims that he made a £27million payment to Gerhard Gribkowsky, a former senior executive at German bank BayernLB.
He was alleged to have made the payment to try and steer the sale, in 2006, of BayernLB’s controlling stake in Formula One to its now owner, the investment fund CVC.
Ecclestone faced charges of bribery and incitement to breach of trust, which carries a sentence of up to 10 years.
Ecclestone leaving the court today He said he paid Gribkowsky to stop him making unfounded allegations about Ecclestone’s tax affairs and denied bribery.
Gribkowsky is serving an eight-and-a-half-year sentence for taking the money, after being convicted of corruption, tax evasion and breach of trust.
Ecclestone can now return to running the racing championship, with the Belgian Grand Prix scheduled to get underway from 23 August.
The considerable payment is expected to go to the German treasury, with $1million of it also earmarked for an organisation that helps terminally ill children.
The judge, Peter Noll, who also led the trial of Gribkowsky, said that Ecclestone’s wealth and assets had been taken into account when accepting the amount to ensure that it didn’t overburden him, according to Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
According to Forbes, he is the 373rd richest man with a net worth of $4.2billion (£2.5billion).
Ecclestone’s lawyer Sven Thomas told The Independent that they were hoping to be successful with the offer and would like a new F1 track built in the region.
Thomas said: “the $100m is for the state of Bavaria. Maybe they will try and build a circuit. I will propose this – that they should build a nice circuit.
“It is a settlement without any conviction, the presumption of innocence is still valid. That was a condition under which I negotiated.”
Additional reporting by Associated Press
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