Christmas is a bit of a trial for Ecclestone

Thu Dec 18, 2014 5:31am EST
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LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has revisited his German bribery trial in a mischievous Christmas card depicting himself handing over $100 million to a masked highwayman pointing a pistol at him.

"This is not a robbery. I am collecting for the Bavarian state," says the cartoon figure on horseback as Ecclestone holds the sack of money.

In a further greeting inside the card sent to Reuters, Ecclestone adds another tongue-in-cheek comment: "Maybe now we can have a Formula One race in the really nice city of Munich, Germany."

Ecclestone paid $100 million in August under the terms of a settlement agreement with prosecutors to end the bribery trial in Munich.

The agreement meant Ecclestone, now 84, preserved his innocence and was spared the prospect of a lengthy trial. He had one week to pay the money -- $99 million to the state and $1 million to a children's charity -- and did so.

Ecclestone had been accused of channeling cash to jailed BayernLB banker Gerhard Gribkowsky to smooth the sale of a major stake in Formula One to private equity fund CVC, now the largest shareholder in the business.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by John O'Brien)

Formula One commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone arrives at the Yas Marina circuit before the start of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix November 20, 2014. REUTERS/Caren Firouz