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Ecclestone bribery case dropped for $100 million

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Ecclestone bribery case dropped for $100 million
Bernie Ecclestone in court on Tuesday. Photo: DPA
10:23 CEST+02:00
UPDATE: A Munich court ruled on Tuesday that Formula One tycoon Bernie Ecclestone may pay a record $100-million settlement to end his trial on bribery charges.

"The proceedings will be temporarily suspended with the agreement of the prosecution and the accused," pending payment of the $100-million settlement, presiding judge Peter Noll said.

Noll asked through an interpreter whether Ecclestone would be able to make the payment within a week, to which he replied: "yes".

The offer had already been accepted by state prosecutors in the case, prosecutor Christian Weiß told the court, making the judges the only remaining party whose consent is needed for the deal to go through.

A financial settlement is allowed in German criminal cases if the prosecution, the aggrieved parties and the court can all agree.

The law was originally designed to allow the justice system to deal with case overload. Around 300,000 deals of this kind are struck in the German justice system every year.

Acceptance of the settlement means Ecclestone, 83, can retain control of the multi-billion dollar sport.

Ecclestone's lawyers welcomed the agreement and hit out at accusations that he had orchestrated a "buying out" of German justice.

"This abandonment of the proceedings indicates that (based) on an unbiased, objective and independent assessment of the main proceedings after more than 100 hours of evidence" before the court, they said in a statement, "a conviction of Mr Ecclestone could not be expected with any likelihood".

The proceedings had been scheduled to last at least until October.

Ecclestone has been in the dock since April this year after accusations that he bribed banker Gerhard Gribowsky of BayernLB bank, which owned a major stake in Formula One, in a bid to maintain his control over the empire.

He has since attended most of the hearings in person. On Tuesday, he arrived in a limousine, looking relaxed and accompanied by his young wife.

Prosecutors had charged that the money was meant to ensure BayernLB sold its shares in Formula One to Ecclestone's preferred bidder, CVC Capital Partners of Britain, now the sport's majority shareholder.

The Formula One boss allegedly paid Gribowsky a bribe of $44 million in 2006 and 2007. Ecclestone has admitted paying the money but said it was hush money for a blackmail attempt rather than a bribe.

SEE ALSO: Ecclestone steps down over bribery trial

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