Belfast Telegraph

Case closed, as 'idiot' Bernie Ecclestone pays up

By Ian Parkes

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has declared himself "a bit of an idiot" for paying a £60m settlement to bring an end to his bribery trial.

Hours after walking out of the district court in Munich for the final time, in the words of a court official "a free man", Ecclestone made his honest admission.

Although Ecclestone had long declared his determination to prove his innocence after being charged with bribery of a German banker and incitement to breach of trust, in the end the trial was proving a strain on his personal life and his businesses.

Ecclestone's lawyers and state prosecutors have thrashed out terms whereby the 83-year-old now has seven days to pay a sum of £60m, believed to be a record in German judiciary history.

Under Bavarian state law, a trial of the nature of Ecclestone's can be concluded if the accused makes a payment to a non-profit making organisation, or the treasury.

Such an offer, however, does not imply any guilt on behalf of the accused. Gallingly for Ecclestone, if the trial had run its course to October, in all likelihood he would have been acquitted.

Although slightly lighter in the pocket, given Ecclestone's worth is estimated at around £3-4billion, he was nonetheless relieved.

Ecclestone said: "It's been three-and-a-half years of aggravation, travelling, meeting lawyers, so it is good it is out of the way.

"In the end what has happened is good and bad – the good is the judge more or less said I was acquitted, and they (the prosecution) really didn't have a case.

"So I was a bit of an idiot to do what I did to settle because it wasn't with the judge, it was with the prosecutors."

Belfast Telegraph

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