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Bernie plays £60m get out of jail card

Tuesday 5th August 2014

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Bernie plays £60m get out of jail card

Bernie plays £60m get out of jail card

Bernie Ecclestone's long, drawn-out bribery trial is over after the F1 boss agreed to make a £60 million ($100 million) out-of-court settlement.

Bavarian state prosecutors confirmed to the district Munich court on Tuesday that the sport's commercial rights holder has offered to make the payment, believed to be the largest in German legal history.

The 83-year-old Ecclestone was accused of bribing former banker Gerhard Gribkowsky during the sale of a major stake in the motor sport business eight years ago.

He reportedly paid Gribkowsky £26 million ($44m) to ensure that a company he favoured will end up with a stake in Formula 1.

The trial started in April and was expected to drag on, but a settlement has now been reached with the state prosecutor revealing that Ecclestone's advanced age and other circumstances supported the acceptance of a settlement.

When asked by Judge Peter Noll if he could make the payment within a week, Ecclestone's defence attorney Sven Thomas replied "that's do-able".

The court ordered Ecclesetone to pay $100 million within a week - $99 million to the state and $1 million to a children's charity.

Under German law, Ecclestone could've faced up to 10 years in jail and a spokesperson for the Munich court, Andrea Titz, warned that the settlement did not mean there was an admission of guilt.

"With this type of ending a procedure there is no ruling on guilt or innocence of the defendant. He is neither acquitted nor judged, rather this is a special type of ending a procedure which is in theory available to all types of cases," she said.

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