Bernie Ecclestone, 2013

Ecclestone pays £59m to end bribery trial

2014 F1 seasonPosted on Author Keith Collantine

Bernie Ecclestone, 2013Bernie Ecclestone’s trial on charges of bribery has come to an end after he offered to pay £59m ($100m) as a settlement.

German law permits defendants to settle trials by payment in some situations, without being judged guilty or innocent.

It brings an end to a trial which lasted four months and threatened to leave Ecclestone with a prison sentence of up to ten years had he been found guilty.

Bayerische Landesbank claimed Ecclestone had bribed their employee Gerhard Gribkowsky with £27m ($44m) in 2006 to ensure Formula One was sold to its current owners CVC Capital Partners. They alleged he preferred CVC as a buyer because they would keep him in charge of the sport.

Gribkowsky was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in prison for his role in the affair in June 2012.

Ecclestone stood down from his role as director of Formula One in January due to the imminent legal proceedings in Germany and a related case in Britain, which he won the following month.

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Image © Jamey Price/James Moy Photography

128 comments on “Ecclestone pays £59m to end bribery trial”

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  1. Well at least we know how much it costs to avoid justice this week.

  2. A sad day for justice and a sadder day for F1, the guy is corrupt and bought his way out of a prison sentence, what a disgrace.

  3. Michael Brown
    5th August 2014, 15:09

    What kind of defendant pays to drop charges?

    A guilty one.

    1. Exactly. As far as I’m concerned the jury is in on this one. It just beggars belief that the courts allowed him to effectively bribe his way out it. Reinforces the view that there is one rule for the rich and one for the rest of us, doesn’t it?

      1. Michael Brown (@)
        6th August 2014, 2:42

        And if the case was so weak against Bernie, then why is Gribkowsky still in jail and why does Berinie have to end the trial?

  4. Money doesnt buy you everything, but definitely has its advantages….

    1. Nah, is just saying helping people to get on.

  5. Since Bernie is all about money, you just have to ask yourself, how much was Bernie standing to lose, if he was prepared to shell out $144,000,000.00 to avoid being audited.

    I feel disgusted for watching F1.
    At least I’m streaming it and I have no intention of financing FOM in any way any time soon.

  6. It was just said on one of the TV new reports that the judge in the case had the option to turn down the offer & that its been said that he only allowed the settlement to go ahead because he felt the case against Bernie was pretty weak.

    1. the sky article also puts that view forward-

      F1 reporter Craig Slater said: “The case had been going well for him and it’s important to emphasise that this would not be happening unless the judge thought that the case was pretty weak against Bernie Ecclestone.

      “Had there been any great gravity of guilt then this potential outcome would not be possible.”

      1. I’m totally confused how this can be the case. The fact that a bribe was paid is now a indisputable fact – a man was jailed because of it. BE has admitted that he was the one that made the payment. What stronger case do you want?

        The same incident cannot be a bribe in one trial and not in another. That makes no sense. If BE was to found innocent, then surely Gribowsky would be released too, as no bribe would have been paid, therefore he is innocent?

        I wonder who else has been paid to ensure the case was “weak”.

        And yes, that is a direct accusation, Mr Ecclestone (and all others involved)

        1. The point that Bernie and his legal team would argue upon is that the German authorities charged Gerhard Gribkowsky for corruption and for tax evasion.

          Now, technically the means by which Gribkowsky obtained that money was irrelevant to his conviction – it was the act of accepting illegal payments that he was found guilty of. It’s not the payment itself that is disputed, rather the reason behind it – Bernie’s defence that the payment was made under duress would still technically be valid in those circumstances.

          Of course, whether you choose to accept that defence is another matter entirely.

          1. “Mr Gribkowsky was convicted of tax evasion, bribery and breach of fiduciary duty over his involvement in the controversial sale of F1 to CVC in 2005.” From the Telegraph. I don’t have access to the precise wording of the conviction myself, but they appear to specific and carefully chosen words, suggesting the Gribkowsky was indeed convicted of bribery. For it to be bribery, a bribe would need to be paid. For a conviction, the fact that a bribe was paid would need to be established, and beyond reasonable doubt. (I assume that the legal system in Germany requires a similar standard of proof, but after todays farce I can’t be sure).

            Given that, Bernie and his legal team are talking out of their proverbial.

        2. @fluxsource I think it is as anon is saying. Firstly is it a fact that Gribkowsky was charged because he accepted a bribe, or just an illegal payment, along with corruption and tax evasion? And even if he accepted a bribe, they were able to prove he received money. As anon points out, BE is claiming he wrote Gribkowsky’s cheque under duress ie. not a bribe but BE was being blackmailed/threatened/shook down.

          1. @robbie If the money was not in fact a bribe, but was blackmail, then Gribkowsky has been wrongly convicted of the wrong crime. I would now assume that he will soon acquitted of the charge of bribery, and face a new trial on the charge of blackmail.

          2. @fluxsource I think we are talking about two different cases here, and Gribkowsky has been proven of certain wrongdoings, one of them including receiving money that is being termed a bribe. I’m guessing they cannot actually prove there was a bribe and that BE bribed him, but they can prove he received money illegally, along with breach of trust, and corruption.

            BE’s case is separate, and it would seem they cannot prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that BE actually bribed Gribkowsky and wasn’t extorted into cutting a cheque, since Gribkowsky has been found guilty of breach of trust, corruption and tax evasion too.

            So to me, proving that Gribkowsky received money has been a lot easier than proving in a different court, at a different time, with a different person being accused, that said money was a bribe from said accused, namely BE. Saying now that BE potentially didn’t bribe Gribkowsky, but was extorted, doesn’t mean they now wind the clock back and cut Gribkowsky a break…he still received that money illegally and did other corrupt things which they have proven or he admitted to, and he possibly extorted BE and they can’t prove he didn’t extort BE to get said illegal money, just as they can’t prove BE bribed him.

            The money Gribkowsky received from BE was either a bribe by BE or an extortion by GG, and they can’t prove either, but they certainly know GG received something illegally and did other illegal acts.

  7. Oh well, It looks like we will have 2 (or more) Russian F1 GP’s in the 2016. Maybe another one in Tajikistan so Bernie can make up the 100 millions back. Seriously, the risk here is that the global brands currently supporting F1 might realize that they are too close for comfort with corrupt individuals and institutions.

  8. Bernie Says: “Always make sure you have enough cash!”

  9. In the UK bribery comes under criminal law, Same to Germany.

  10. So for all of us who have paid the extortionate prices for Grand Prix tickets, at least we know our money is being put to good use.

    1. Sennas sandshoe
      5th August 2014, 19:49

      Ticket money goes to the circuit ;)

      1. The circuits have to pay a fee to hold the race…

  11. Despite being born in the same county and being roughly the same height as Bernie Ecclestone, I simply think that he is nothing other than a highly controversial individual. Yes he has done a lot of good for Formula One, but figures like him (and Briatore, Blatter and so on) with a long list of highly controversial acts should not be allowed to manage top sports in any way, shape or form.

    In a way, I will be glad when he is fully out of the Formula One picture, it will certainly be a breath of fresh air to not have somebody who will propose stupid ‘sprinkler’ systems and so forth. Whether the next individual or group be better for Formula One or not, only time will tell.

  12. Bernie probably offered the German court two things they cannot refuse. A $100m and a German F1 champ.

  13. It’s not surprising.

  14. Poor Bernie, 1st. he is shaken down by Gribowsky for $44m. then he is shaken down by the state of Bavaria for $100m.

  15. Maybe , just maybe, they let him off the hook on this one because someone has bigger and better things panned for Bernard, like gov tax office ?

  16. Speaking of tax…

    There’s a million to claim as a charitable gift ….whats a bet he gets his bean counters to claim the other fines to the state as well off his next years income tax,,,,

    whats a bet !!!

    ahh Berni, turns poo into gold,

  17. Good luck to him money makes money and by god he is good at it

  18. The best thing for him is community service. Make him do some gardening for a (slightly) old (er) lady!

  19. How can some say that the bribe has been paid to the bank?German bank BayernLB says they dont accept the bribe.Someone please lock the little man up.Paying a bribe to get out of a bribery conviction is not right.

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