Bernie Ecclestone heading straight back to work after $100m court settlement over bribery charges

The Formula One supremo was facing up to 10 years in prison if he had been found guilty

Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone said today he is going straight back to work after he agreed to pay nearly £60m ($100m) to a court in Germany to put an end to the bribery trial against him.

“I’m not really celebrating. It’s just not me,” Ecclestone told The Independent. “I’ve just got to get on with work. I’ve got things I need to catch up with so I’m cracking on.”

The trial began in April and could have led to Ecclestone being imprisoned for up to 10 years if he had been found guilty. Hearings had been taking place for two days a week to allow him to run Formula One at the same time which was “extremely burdensome” according to his lawyer, Sven Thomas.

“It’s a weight off my mind,” Ecclestone added after reaching the settlement, which was revealed in Tuesday’s Independent. “I have been wasting two days a week. Now I can get back to doing what I should be doing.”

The state of Bavaria will receive $99m of the settlement, with the remaining $1m going to a local children’s hospital. It is small beer for Ecclestone, whose wealth is estimated at $4bn. He said that this was a factor in the size of the settlement, which is believed to be the largest in German legal history.

“What happens in these cases is that if you want to get rid of them there is always a chunk of money you have to pay depending on how much money you have got. If I had proved that I hadn’t got any money I wouldn’t have had to pay. That’s what it’s all about.”

 

Ecclestone is thankful that the judge decided not to make a ruling and says “the finance of the settlement is nothing in the world to do with the judge, it’s to do with the prosecutors. What has happened is that the judge has come back and more or less said it’s an acquittal, which he didn’t have to do.”

German prosecutors had claimed that Ecclestone and his Bambino family trust paid a £27m bribe to Gerhard Gribkowsky, a former senior executive at German bank BayernLB. They believed that Ecclestone paid the money to steer the sale of BayernLB’s controlling stake in Formula One to the investment fund CVC as it had agreed to retain him as the boss of the sport. Ecclestone denies bribery and says he paid Gribkowsky to stop him making unfounded allegations about Ecclestone’s tax affairs.

A court spokesperson said that as a result of the £60m settlement “there is no ruling on guilt or innocence of the defendant”.

Ecclestone, who has been attending the trial since it began in April, says that the prosecutors approached him about settling and it is understood that this offer was driven by a lack of evidence.

Judge Peter Noll said in his concluding statement: “The charges could not, in important areas, be substantiated”.

These words and putting pen to a large cheque gave Ecclestone the keys to remain in Formula One’s driving seat for a while longer yet.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Internal Recruiter - Manufacturing

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Internal Recruiter (manufact...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager (CIPD) - Barking / East Ham - £50-55K

£50000 - £55000 per annum + 25 days holidays & benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Man...

Recruitment Genius: Operations / Project Manager

£40000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Ashdown Group: Human Resources Manager

£28000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: A successful organisation...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border