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F1 Boss Ecclestone Offers Court £60M Deal In Bribery Case

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-28656050

German prosecutors say they would accept an offer of $100m (£60m) from Formula 1 chief Bernie Ecclestone to end his trial on bribery charges.

The Munich state court is expected to agree to the offer later on Tuesday.

The 83-year-old billionaire went on trial in April, charged with bribery and incitement to breach of trust.

He is accused of paying a German banker 33m euros (£26m; $44m) to ensure that a company he favoured could buy a stake in F1. He denies wrongdoing.

Mr Ecclestone will be in court for the decision. If found guilty he could have faced a 10-year jail term and the end of his decades-long dominance of motor racing.

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

Gribkowsky was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison in 2012 for accepting bribes.

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

The Munich court is expected to announce its decision at about 13:00 local time (11:00 GMT).

Prosecutors said Mr Ecclestone's advanced age and other mitigating circumstances gave grounds to accept the $100m offer.

...

Legal get-out clause

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.

An experienced lawyer quoted by the Spiegelonline news website, Franz Bielefeld, said the proviso, known as Paragraph 153a, was not just applicable to commercial trials, but could be invoked throughout the court system.

Got to love the irony in this story, Ecclestone on bribery charges offers to pay the court £60m to end the case! Good job the German system has the option to "buy" a termination of trial.

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So, who comes out worst from this?

  1. German courts openly taking a bribe?
  2. The man who openly makes the payoff?
  3. The British system, quietly giving the nod to the kind of payments he was on trial for in Germany, so long as he's the Right Kind of Chap (aka innocent until proven broke)?

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-28656050

Got to love the irony in this story, Ecclestone on bribery charges offers to pay the court £60m to end the case! Good job the German system has the option to "buy" a termination of trial.

Pragmatic Germans! Why didn't they just ask him for the money on Day 1, instead of dragging the case out for weeks first.

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Whenever I read a story like this I always imagine Johns Bird and Fortune doing their head to head.

"But hasn't he just bribed the court?"

"Well under English law yes, but this Germany."

"I see."

"And it's called a termination payment."

"It's not a bribe then?"

"Very much not. Bribes are illegal in Germany too."

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