Ecclestone case to end with $100M settlement

According to the Independent’s Christian Sylt, Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone is set to be cleared this week of all wrongdoing in the German court case for alleged bribery involving the sale of F1 shares in 2006.

While initial reports had the out-of-court settlement payments at an estimated $40 million but Sylt says that figure could balloon to Germany’s largest settlement payment yet at $100 million. Ecclestone attorney, Sven Thomas, said:

“It seems that we will be successful in the settlement,” Thomas said on Monday. “The amount is not confidential. They are talking about $100m.”

What is also interesting in this article is the revelation that German prosecutors initiated the conversation about a settlement as Ecclestone said:

“The prosecutors said, ‘Do we want to have a chat about it?’ That is what started it. We didn’t ask them, they asked us.”

Most had assumed that the defense had offered the settlement but according to Ecclestone himself, it was the other way around.

While the settlement is expected this week, the result would be a sort of acquittal with no chance for another court case regarding the matter of bribery. It is about mitigating risks and while $100 million is a massive amount of money, the 83-year-old may have a few things he’d like to do in the golden years rather than sit in a German courtroom twice a week for another five months over charges that are “highly questionable”.

The settlement amount of $100 million would cover the court costs and taxes from the original alleged $40 million in bribe money not to mention the remaining amount of the actual bribe money that Gerhard Gribkowsky still had. In all, Germany stand to have a capital day. So much so that Ecclestone’s attorney has an idea of how to use that settlement cash:

“the $100m is for the state of Bavaria. Maybe they will try and build a circuit. I will propose this – that they should build a nice circuit.”

A nice parting shot from Thomas to be sure. How about taking that money and building a new circuit in which to hold an F1 race and then pay us $25 per year for ten years with a 10% escalator? Classic Mr. E!

Unfortunately, $100 million might get the dirt dug up for one of Herman Tilke’s modern circuits and that would leave Germany about $200 million short of completing it but you have to admire the cheek.

Looks like Mr. E just had his own McLaren moment that cost $100M. Maybe he and Ron Dennis will have something to grouse about over lunch.

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