German court to rule on $100 m Ecclestone bid to end trial

By admin
05 August 2014

Ecclestone is on trial for paying a $44 million bribe to a Bavarian state bank executive. and wants to settle the case with a $100 million payment.

A German court said it would rule Tuesday on an offer by Formula One tycoon Bernie Ecclestone to pay $100 million to end his trial on bribery charges.

"The court must review this offer in its entirety, which it will do by 1 pm (1100 GMT)," presiding judge Peter Noll said, confirming a media report that the Briton proposed the huge settlement to halt the proceedings against him.

It would reportedly be the largest accord of its kind in German criminal history.

The 83-year-old billionaire went on trial in the southern city of Munich in April on charges of paying a $44-million bribe to a Bavarian state bank executive for help in maintaining his four-decade grip on Formula One.

A settlement is allowed in German criminal cases if the prosecution, the aggrieved parties and the court agree. If it is approved by the judges, it should mean that Ecclestone can retain his control of the multi-billion dollar sport.

He has attended most of the hearings in person and arrived at the courthouse on Tuesday in a limousine, looking relaxed and accompanied by his young wife.

Ecclestone's defence team and prosecutors struck the deal, first reported on Saturday in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, to settle the case with a one-time $100-million payment rather than continue with proceedings.

News of the accord drew fierce criticism of a legal proviso in Germany that allows defendants to "buy" a dismissal in some instances.

Former justice minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger blasted the deal as "galling" and "not in harmony with the sense and purpose of our legal practices".

She called on lawmakers to at least tighten -- if not eliminate entirely -- the loophole, which is designed to expedite cases before overburdened courts and whose sums are calculated based on the defendant's financial means.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung lashed out at a deal in which "the briber is supposed to be washed clean with a spectacular payment".

"The saying goes 'money doesn't stink' but that's wrong here: these millions stink to high heaven."

And the top-selling Bild denounced "the bitter impression that not everyone is equal before the law".


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