Ecclestone may pay over quarter billion to avoid German jail

Bernie Ecclestone doll

Bernie Ecclestone doll

Formula 1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone could end his legal troubles and avoid up to ten years in a German jail by paying a huge settlement.

For the very first time, Ecclestone’s lawyer Sven Thomas, although insisting that Ecclestone is “preparing for fighting” in court, has said that settling the lawsuit is also a possibility.

“I don’t think that we can achieve a settlement before the trial starts,” Thomas told Formula 1 business journalist Christian Sylt.

“During trials settlements are always possible but not before.”

A spokesperson for the Munich court, which is set to hear the criminal bribery case in April, confirmed to the Daily Mail that a settlement is one possible outcome.

The spokesperson 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”.

Sylt said that the settlement would probably cost billionaire Ecclestone, who has stepped down as a Formula 1 director while the case is pending, somewhere just shy of €300 million.

“Although it is unusual for a court to take money to settle criminal charges, it is perfectly acceptable in Germany,” said Sylt.

Ecclestone said: “The judge is in a difficult position. He has locked somebody (Gerhard Gribkowsky) up for eight and a half years.

“[The judge] said that if the prosecutors wanted to, he would give some consideration to [accepting a settlement] but the prosecutors haven’t asked.” (GMM)

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  • Red Bull Cheats

    You mean “quarter BILLION”.

  • sarahsdadjeff

    That is definitely not chump change, even for Bernie.

  • sebolonso

    It is definately a quarter off BILLION. What head line suggest is coffe money for Bernie. Probably the interest will rise to some hundreds of millions as well. Bernie got nailed.

  • Boycottthebull

    So there are different laws for the rich after all. So Billionaire Bernie can go ahead with the trial and play it by ear. If he gets an inkling that things arent going his way and he is about to be conviced he calls a stop to proceedings and pays the money he should have come up with in the first place. Given his age and the many billions he has it seemed stupid of him to waste was precious time he has left in courts round the world. The German system seems to permit him to hedge his bets. Another rich ponce able to buy himself out of his own corruption and palm greasing.

  • Urko

    @Boycottbebull, spot on! I would only agree for minimum (!) of 2 years in prison, but for axchange for not getting 8 or 10 years in prison he has to pay, let say 1 billion(yes, billion!) pounds. And then it’s up to him to decide which option he prefers.

  • Anna

    Plea bargaining and behind the scenes payoffs. The bain of the justice system world wide. The rich can buy a get-out-of-jail-free card. Corruption at it’s finest!

  • Karlich

    Oh give me a break please. It’s not like Bernie screwed over millions of mom & pops investors, homeowners and so on – that’s the business of bankers and Bernie, if anything, just screwed over bankers. As such I’d personally applaud him and give him a medal! Like him or not, he is unquestionably the most influential person in Formula 1 and in his ongoing F1 career has contributed the most to the growth of F1 as a global sport spectacle that’s worth all that money in dispute now. If he is found guilty and given a chance to pay his way out, good for him.

  • super seven

    so Bernie may be able to get out of the risk of jail time for paying money to someone…. by paying money to someone.

    Now that, unlike most of the lyrics in the famous song, is ironic.

  • David

    If Bernie screwed the bankers, Karlich, you can be darn sure that those cuddly bankers passed the losses on to their customers, i.e. you and me. Whenever there’s huge sums of money sloshing around those with privilege and influence will make sure they grab a lot of it. A read of Private Eye will make you cynical of almost every politician and newspaper manager in the UK, a country that prides itself on the lack of corruption compared to many others!

  • Karlich


    a) how about not calling others IDIOT
    b) if you’re upset with the costs of watching Formula 1, may I suggest you google around for alternatives
    c) if watching Formula 1 on a mediocre live stream over the internet on your 40″ LED smart TV won’t suffice, I suppose that SkySportsF1 coverage is well within your budget
    d) if it wasn’t for Bernie, F1 wouldn’t be what it is and while I don’t know what it would be if someone else would have come along in Bernie’s place, I am sure it would have ended up on pay TV
    e) if you’re generally discontent with the concept of having to pay for a NOT PUBLIC sports event, you better point that elsewhere, complain to the BBC, your spouse, your parents, your MPs, whoever mate, but don’t come here calling me an idiot…

  • Karlich

    David – if those cuddly bankers passed their losses down to their customers, then Bernie, by means of paying his way out of jail, will reimburse the public because “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”. I see no harm in that.