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German court to accept Ecclestone payment to end bribery trial

Aug 5, 2014, 8:45 AM EDT

F1 Grand Prix of Germany Getty Images

Bernie Ecclestone’s bribery trial will end, as the head of Formula One has offered up $100 million U.S. for that ending – this has been identified by a district court in Munich, and state prosecutors plan to accept.

Reports last week indicated this was possible for Ecclestone to pay his way out through a legal out clause, explained a bit further below.

This will end the trial that began in April and has gone on throughout the summer. Ecclestone will be found neither guilty or innocent on the charges.

The trial all stems from Ecclestone’s being accused of paying jailed German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky of $44m for the BayernLB bank to keep Ecclestone as an F1 executive and for CVC Capital Partners to take the sale of F1’s commercial rights at an undervalued price. Though the payment was accepted, Ecclestone denied this was a bribe.

But the out clause to allow Ecclestone to pay his way out of this case refers to a provision in German law.

The BBC reported the quote of an experienced lawyer, Franz Bielefeld, to the Spiegelonline news website. Bielefeld explained to that outlet that this proviso, known as Paragraph 153a, was not just applicable to commercial trials, but could be invoked throughout the court system.

Further clarification here via The Guardian, which explained of the “get-out clause:”

“A paragraph in the German criminal code allows for trials to be ended under conditions which are “appropriate for resolving the public interest in a prosecution,” as long as the gravity of wrongdoing does not outweigh this.”

NBC Sports Group F1 pit reporter and insider Will Buxton said the decision is due to the intricacies of the German legal system:

Ecclestone, now 83, will be able to continue running the sport for the foreseeable future; however, he’s not clearly out of the woods. As my MotorSportsTalk colleague Luke Smith notes, a sale of the CVC Capital Partners group is on the horizon.

Though the trial may now be over, the political intrigue will continue to roll on.

  1. barrylibby - Aug 5, 2014 at 9:45 AM

    A legal bribe to settle a bribe ,that wasn’t a bribe, so another wouldn’t talk to the UK revenues services !!
    Did that not sound like a bribe to begin with?
    What the heck did he have to worry about with the tax people to begin with ?

    Oh well , he will just extort that from a couple of track owners anyway so it will be no great loss to him

  2. sw19womble - Aug 5, 2014 at 10:07 AM

    Dictionary definition of irony.

  3. techmeister1 - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:38 PM

    This is absolutely wrong and shows a double standard for the wealthy. There is no way on earth that Bernie should not go to prison for his crimes like every other criminal. The $100 million should be the fine, not a get out of jail deal.

    What a terrible disgrace!

  4. noelmasson - Aug 5, 2014 at 4:53 PM

    I agree…
    Nothing like a bribe to settle a bribe.
    It’s wrong on so many levels.

  5. urallstupid - Aug 5, 2014 at 5:46 PM

    so he just bribed the court to get out of a bribery case. LOL

  6. kando53 - Aug 5, 2014 at 6:36 PM

    The German criminal system is a f****g joke! And Buxton is nothing less than a typical @ss kissing journalist.

  7. Jeff - Aug 5, 2014 at 7:37 PM

    So a bribe settles a bribe. I didn’t expect that from the Germans.

  8. formeralmsfan - Aug 5, 2014 at 10:38 PM

    I’d sure like to read an interview with Gerhard Gribkowsky . Apparently he’s doing time for taking a bribe but no one bribed him! I hoped we were done with Bernie, but evil can’t be killed.

  9. worknman24hours - Aug 6, 2014 at 6:55 PM

    Bernie continues to run his big fat mouth in the press about the fact that he had to pay to not have the court go forward with the case,he will find himself back in court and facing more charges then before.

    Shut your damn pie hole about the case, Bernie.

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