Germany: Settlement Possible in Formula One Boss’s Bribery Case
The top figure in Formula One auto racing may be seeking a settlement with German prosecutors in a multi-million dollar bribery case.
Lawyers for Bernie Ecclestone, 83, the British billionaire who controls the Formula One franchise, met with prosecutors and representatives of state-owned German bank BayernLB on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of a US$ 33.48 million settlement, The Guardian reports.
A spokeswoman for the Munich District Court told Reuters on Friday, “It is possible that there will be a settlement,” and said that witnesses had been told they no longer needed to come to next week’s trial.
Ecclestone was indicted for bribery last year after making a $44 million payment to a banker in 2006 to ensure the sale of BayernLB’s stake in Formula One Group to the private equity firm CVC Capital Partners.
Ecclestone admits making the payment to former BayernLB executive Gerhard Gribkowsky, but denies that it was a bribe, saying Gribkowsky blackmailed him by threatening to make false claims about his taxes, according to Reuters.
Gribkowsky was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison in 2012 for accepting Ecclestone’s payment, and was expected to testify against him in this trial, The Guardian reports.
An official response from the Munich court to Ecclestone’s settlement offer is expected by August 8, according to The Guardian.