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F1's Ecclestone agrees to pay fee, bribery trial ends

A provision in German law allows Ecclestone to pay to end the trail without admitting guilt.
By Ed Adamczyk   |   Aug. 5, 2014 at 11:28 AM   |   Comments

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MUNICH, Germany, Aug. 5 (UPI) -- Bernie Ecclestone, leader of the Formula 1 racing series, agreed to end his Munich, Germany, bribery trial Tuesday by paying a $100 million fee.

At his trial, which began in April, Ecclestone was accused of paying a German banker $44 million to ensure an investment in the global racing series would be available to a business he favored, thus assuring Ecclestone -- president and CEO of Formula 1 Management and Formula 1 Administration -- would continue leading the sport.

He denied wrongdoing, and the ruling, which is neither a guilty or innocent ruling and is based on German law, allows Ecclestone, 83, to go free and continue operating Formula 1.

His personal wealth is assessed by Forbes magazine at $4.2 billion.

The banker, Gerhard Gribkowsky, was sentenced to eight and one-half years in prison in 2012 for accepting bribes, and is currently in jail.

Judge Peter Noll ruled the payment would be made within a week, and $99 million of it would be directed to the Bavarian state treasury. The rest would be donated to a local children's hospital.

Under German law, in some circumstances a defendant can pay to end a trial, a loophole criticized in Ecclestone's case by former Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, who called it "not just in bad taste, it's really insolent," adding it allowed the rich to go free.

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