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Gerhard Gribkowsky


Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone will make a $100 million payment to end the bribery trial.

Bernie Ecclestone’s offer was based on an existing provision in German law.

Earlier on Tuesday German prosecutors accepted the offer from the 83-year-old billionaire who dominates motor racing.

Bernie Ecclestone went on trial in April, accused of paying a German banker 33 million euros ($44 million) to ensure that a company he favored could buy a stake in F1.

He denies wrongdoing.

The ruling means he walks free from the district court in Munich and can continue running the sport. It also means Bernie Ecclestone is found neither guilty nor innocent.

His personal wealth is put at $4.2 billion by Forbes.

If found guilty, Bernie Ecclestone could have faced a 10-year jail term and the end of his decades-long dominance of motor racing.

Bernie Ecclestone will make a $100 million payment to end the bribery trial

Bernie Ecclestone will make a $100 million payment to end the bribery trial (photo Reuters)

A BayernLB banker, Gerhard Gribkowsky, was allegedly paid by Bernie Ecclestone to ensure the F1 stake was bought by a company that he favored, so that he would remain in charge of the sport.

Gerhard Gribkowsky was sentenced to 8 and half years in prison in 2012 for accepting bribes.

Bernie Ecclestone says the payment was given to Gerhard Gribkowsky after the banker threatened to make false claims about the F1 boss’s tax status.

Prosecutors said Bernie Ecclestone’s advanced age and other mitigating circumstances gave grounds to accept the $100 million offer.

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

Asked by Judge Peter Noll if he could raise the $100 million, Bernie Ecclestone replied “yes”. When asked if the payment could be made within a week, his defense lawyer, Sven Thomas, said: “That’s do-able.”

Judge Peter Noll ruled that $99 million would go to the Bavarian state coffers while $1 million would be donated to a children’s hospital. The sum is believed to be a record for such a payment.

Court spokesperson Andrea Titz said Bernie Ecclestone: “The court did not consider a conviction overwhelmingly likely from the present point of view.

“With this type of ending… there is no ruling on guilt or innocence of the defendant.”

Under German law defendants can in certain circumstances “buy” termination of a trial.

The legal proviso exists in order to ease the burden on the courts and to deal with cases where reaching a judgment could prove difficult.

However, a lawyer quoted by the Spiegelonline website, Franz Bielefeld, said it was unusual for the clause to be invoked in mid-trial – more often it is done before a trial starts.

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