Bernie settles bribery case for $100million
But Bayern LB reject offer of a separate £19m settlement, with a civil trial now looking likely
Bernie Ecclestone has survived his bribery trial in Germany and salvaged his position at the helm of Formula 1, by paying off $100m (£60m) to settle the case. This is allowed in Germany under certain circumstances, with no assumption of either guilt or innocence.
Prosecutors said Ecclestone’s age and other mitigating circumstances created grounds for the settlement offer. The amount sets a new record and will be split, with $99million going to the German state and $1m to be donated to a children’s hospital. The German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, whose testimony led to Ecclestone standing trial, remains in jail, serving an eight-year sentence for accepting an alleged bribe from the F1 star to ensure the sport’s commercial rights were sold to current owners CVC. Despite this, the judge in Ecclestone’s trial said after the settlement had been agreed that the prospects of securing a conviction had been slim. In the context of those comments, Ecclestone described his decision to settle as “a little bit silly”.
But the saga is still not over. BayernLB, the bank for whom Gribkowsky worked, is still pursuing Ecclestone, claiming he collected commissions and undervalued its stake in Formula 1.
The bank refused the offer of a £19million payment from Ecclestone to settle that dispute, shortly after his trial ended. The bank’s next steps are unclear, but they are considering taking the matter to the civil courts.
The end of Ecclestone’s trial should open up a logjam in long-term F1 decision-making. Many senior gures admitted privately that they were waiting for the outcome of the trial before making any strategic moves, as they were unclear whether Ecclestone would remain in charge or not. Among the many matters pending is a decision on whether to retain the controversial double points for the nal race of the season. Team bosses have been taken aback by the vitriolic reaction from fans and many have admitted it was a mistake.