Bernie Ecclestone. Photo via Ryan Bayona under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.Enlarge Photo
Money doesn't necessarily buy happiness, but it's bought British billionaire Bernie Ecclestone out of what he describes as "three and a half years of aggravation" in a high-profile bribery case. The Formula One supremo paid a $100 million settlement to end the case.
The majority of this goes directly to the German state, while the remainder, about $2.35 million, will go to a charity that looks after terminally-ill children. In the Bavaria region of Germany, where Ecclestone, 83, was on trial, the law allows defendants to make such a payment with no presumption of innocence or guilt, to a non-profit organization or the German treasury, the Daily Mail reports.
As the court documents show, German bank BayernLB sold its stake in F1 in 2006 to a private equity firm. Ecclestone was alleged to have paid a $44 million bribe to a former banker to persuade him to avoid selling to the equity firm. In July 2013, Ecclestone was indicted for bribery in Germany and in January this year, a court in Munich ruled that the F1 boss would indeed be put on trial. Ecclestone subsequently stepped down from several roles in the sport to concentrate on the trial—but now says he will return, and that "everything is back to normal".
Following three hours of deliberation by the court following the $100 million offer, presiding judge Peter Noll surmised that "charges could not be substantiated". Prosecutors, meanwhile, said they agreed to the deal due to Ecclestone's "advanced age" and "other extenuating circumstances."