Settlement of German Ecclestone bribery case possible: court

Fri Aug 1, 2014 8:32am EDT
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By Jörn Poltz

MUNICH (Reuters) - A bribery trial against Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone that has been threatening his hold over the motor sport may end early with a settlement, a Munich court spokeswoman said on Friday, after Ecclestone's lawyers held talks with prosecutors.

Ecclestone, 83, went on trial in Munich in April over allegations he bribed a former German banker as part of the sale of a major stake in the motor sport business eight years ago.

"It is possible that there will be a settlement," a spokeswoman for the district court told Reuters, adding the court had told witnesses due to appear in the trial next week that they need not come.

Ecclestone's lawyers held talks with prosecutors on Tuesday.

Lawyers for Ecclestone, who denies wrongdoing, said they had offered to pay German state-owned bank BayernLB 25 million euros ($33.5 million) to help settle the case.

If convicted the British billionaire could face up to 10 years in jail and would have to cede control of a business he has built up over the past four decades.

Prosecutors have rejected a request from the defense to drop proceedings on the grounds of a lack of evidence.

Under German law, a settlement payment to a party involved would not necessarily bring a criminal case to an end.   Continued...

Formula One Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone arrives for the continuation of his trial at the regional court in Munich July 29, 2014.   REUTERS/Matthias Schrader/Pool