Could £240m make Ecclestone bribery case go away?

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The legal action continues for formula 1 boss Bernie Eccelstone as it was announced last week that a case in the US had been dropped but this was on the heels of an major announcement that the German court would go to trial against Ecclestone for alleged bribery in the Gerhard Gribkowsky case.

The case alleges that Ecclestone bribed BayernLB employee, Gerhard Gribkowsky, to do a deal with CVC Capital as the investment company was Ecclestone’s preferred buyer. There is also a case in the UK court regarding the same issue and that verdict has yet to be announced.

In short, there are several legal cases surrounding the issue but our friend, Christian Sylt, says that there may be a way to settle the German case telling the Daily Mail:

His [Ecclestone’s] lawyer, Sven Thomas, says that once the trial begins, a settlement could put the brakes on it. ‘I don’t think that we can achieve a settlement before the trial starts. During trials settlements are always possible but not before.’

Court spokeswoman Margarete Noetzel confirmed this and said that ‘according to German legal procedure, there is the possibility during the trial to stop the proceedings in return for payment of an agreed sum of money to a charitable institution or the treasury, if the accused, the public prosecutors and also the court agrees with it’.

If that were the case, why wait? As Ecclestone explained:

‘The judge is in a difficult position. He has locked somebody up for eight-and-a-half years. What he doesn’t want to say is that he has abandoned this. He said if the prosecutors wanted to, he would give some consideration to doing that but the prosecutors haven’t asked.

The last thing he wants to do is say, “There wasn’t a case” and somebody says to him, “That’s very nice, you have locked the guy up for eight-and-a-half years without even deciding”.’

Ecclestone’s defense team are gearing for a fight but should the trial begin, there is a precedent for settling out of court. If that were the position Ecclestone’s defense took, how much money are we talking about? Sylt says:

It is not clear how much Ecclestone would have to pay to settle but it would probably be in the region of £240m. This is the amount that BayernLB believes it lost through the sale to CVC, as it claims that if the deal had not gone through, other buyers would have come forward and paid more for their F1 stake.

It’s large chunk of change but in context of a $3 billion wallet, it may be a logical choice for the 83-year-old. We’ll see how this pans out but no doubt there are many folks who see the crows circling and want a piece of the Ecclestone fortune. Three court cases later, they may just very well get some of it.

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