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Ecclestone: 'The judge had no other choice'

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Ecclestone: 'The judge had no other choice'
Ecclestone in court in Munich on Tuesday. Photo: DPA
11:33 CEST+02:00
Formula One tycoon Bernie Ecclestone has praised capitalism and Munich after he settled his bribery trial with a $100 million payment to the Bavarian justice system.

In an interview with daily tabloid Bild newspaper on Wednesday, the 83-year-old said: “From where I’m standing, it didn’t look like the judges, in their opinion, had any other choice."

“It's certainly a bit unfortunate to pay so much money, but it would be worse to not have the money. I like this capitalist system," he added.

Ecclestone had been on trial since April on charges of paying a $44-million bribe to banker Gerhard Gribowsky of BayernLB bank to maintain his control over the Formula One empire.

“It wasn’t fun having to be in Munich for two, three days every week," Ecclestone said.

But he added: “I fell in love a bit with Munich and its people. I’d like to come back soon, perhaps to Oktoberfest.”

The bribery case against Ecclestone was dropped on Tuesday after prosecutors and the judge at Munich’s district court agreed to the $100-million settlement.

A German law, known as paragraph 153a, allows charges to be dropped against defendants if the court approves, provided the conditions imposed “serve the public interest”.

The law states the money must be paid to a charitable organization or the State Treasury. In Ecclestone’s case, $1 million will be paid to a charity and the rest will go into state coffers.

Paragraph 153a is normally used to relieve the pressure on the justice system for relatively minor offences. The sum paid by Ecclestone is thought to be a record since the law’s introduction in 1974. 

Figures from the Federal Statistics Office show the law was used in just over 29,000 cases in Bavaria in 2012 and more than 200,000 nationally. 

SEE ALSO: German justice system ridiculed over Ecclestone case

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