Ecclestone trial halted after F1 boss agrees to $100 million settlement
By Jörn Poltz
MUNICH Germany (Reuters) - A German court on Tuesday halted a bribery trial against Bernie Ecclestone in exchange for his paying a $100 million fee, under the terms of a settlement struck agreed by prosecutors and the chief executive of Formula One.
Such an agreement is possible in German law, depending on the charges. It means the 83-year-old Ecclestone preserves his innocence and is spared the prospect of a lengthy trial.
Judge Peter Noll told the court the suspicion of bribery against Ecclestone could not, by and large, be backed up in a trial. He gave Ecclestone one week to pay $100 million - $99 million to the state and $1 million to a children's charity.
"The trial is temporarily suspended until you've honored your commitments and then it'll be permanently discontinued," Noll said. "If you don't honor your commitments, we'll continue the trial. I assume we'll only ever see each other again on TV."
Ecclestone, 83, replied in English: "Thank you very much. I will honor my commitment."
Ecclestone went on trial in April over allegations he paid a $44 million bribe to a former German banker to facilitate the sale of a major stake in the motor sport business eight years ago.
Ecclestone, a former used car salesman who became a billionaire by building the sport into a global money spinner over the past four decades, denied any wrongdoing.
The state prosecutor told the court earlier on Tuesday that due to Ecclestone's "advanced age" and "other extenuating circumstances", they supported the proposed settlement. Continued...