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German prosecutors accept F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone $100m court deal in bribery case
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Bernie Ecclestone
Posted By: Editor   |  05 Aug 2014   |  12:24 pm GMT  |  220 comments

Formula 1 commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone’s trial in Munich has ended. German prosecutors have accepted Ecclestone’s offer to make a $100m payment to bring to a close his trial on bribery charges.

“A prosecution of the accused due to bribery is not probable as things stand,” said the court statement. Ecclestone’s defence lawyers said that the arrangement kept his presumed innocence intact.

Ecclestone, who was in court for the decision, went on trial in April, over allegations he bribed former German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky as part of the sale of a major stake in Formula 1 eight years ago.

If found guilty, the 83-year-old could have faced 10 years in prison, bringing to an end his involvement at the helm of Formula 1.

Gribkowsky had already been found guilty of corruption, tax evasion and breach of trust and is serving an eight-and-a-half year sentence. He was convicted by the judge who presided over Ecclestone’s trial – Peter Noll. Ecclestone always maintained his innocence. He said that the payment to Gribkowsky was blackmail, as the former banker had threatened to make allegations to the UK tax authorities.

Under German law, defendants can settle some criminal cases with smaller punishments, such as fines. The legal proviso exists to ease the burden on the courts and deal with cases where judgement could be difficult.

According to Wall Street Journal, “Under the German Code of Criminal Procedure, prosecutors can agree to drop a case in exchange for such conditions as a fine or community work, as long as the “gravity of guilt” doesn’t pose an obstacle.”

Ecclestone’s advanced age and other mitigating circumstances gave grounds for the offer to be accepted, according to the prosecutors.

Bernie Ecclestone and Niki Lauda

Ecclestone, 83, told Press Association: “The bottom line is it’s been three and a half years of aggravation, travelling, meeting lawyers, and God knows what else, so it is good it is out of the way.

“This trial has been going on for two days a week and it was going to go on until October. When you’re trying to run businesses it’s not easy trying to resolve things when you’re dealing with lawyers.

“In the end what has happened today 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.

“Anyway, it’s done and finished, so it’s all right. I’m contented, it’s all fine.

“This now allows me to do what I do best, which is running F1.

“Another three months out would have been bad. I’ve been working weekends to catch up with what I’ve been missing during the week.

“I’ve not really noticed, but it’s probably taken its toll a little bit.”

Speaking before the decision, Mercedes chief Niki Lauda said: “I would only welcome it [the decision] if Bernie can concentrate on Formula 1 and together with the teams solve the existing problems. If Bernie stops, it would have been a disaster for Formula 1.

“He has built everything up over three decades and is the only one who knows everything — the business, the details of the teams. Everything is in his head.

“If all the allegations are gone from the table, then Bernie has done everything right. Then all the speculation ends. Continuity is very important at the top of Formula 1 for the future.”

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220 Comments
  1. Frankie says:

    What a comedy. Bribe yourself out of bribe charges [mod].
    And I thought the Germans were one of the more switched on people of this world….

    1. Matt says:

      It does seem like a situation of two wrongs making a right.

      At least Bernie can say he was not found guilty of bribery, but it was a very expensive way to avoid a real conclusion.

      1. meltwaterfalls says:

        If, as implied by this conclusion, Bernie is willing to shell out up to $144m to keep his tax affairs away from the UK authorities, you may start to wonder just how much money Bernie was trying to save.

      2. Rampant Haddock says:

        It’s a semantic point, but that’s not quite correct: he wasn’t found not guilty of bribery- he was just not found guilty. Small difference, but no one has found him “not guilty”.

    2. J N H says:

      As the saying goes, innocent until proven poor.
      .
      On a more serious note, surely this is grounds for removing Bernie from F1, nobody fronts up a hundred million dollars to end a case they were going to win.

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        I get the impression the only person who can get rid of Mr E is the grim reaper………….

    3. PeterF says:

      Actually there is another and far more disturbing way to look at this:

      The German prosecutors and court have brought up charges against a wealthy man and kept him tied up away from his business for months until finally he agreed to pay $100 million for the charges to ‘go away’.

      This is usually called Racketeering. Who then is next is on the German ‘court’s’ list?

      Either way this is in no way shape or form any kind of justice.

      1. kartarece says:

        This is a farce 1st Class, to say the least

      2. Doobs says:

        WIth the best lawyers no doubt, that money can buy, a notorious tight wad still “voluntarily” paid $100m.
        Draw your own conclusions.

      3. Ravi says:

        Are you a Lawyer, Sir ?

    4. alexbookoo says:

      Is there a German word for irony? Because Ecclestone escaping a bribery case by paying $100m to a German court would be a good definition.

      1. F430-Fox says:

        > Is there a German word for irony?

        Of course – it’s “Ironie” … :-)

      2. James Allen says:

        Another irony is that $100million is the same amount McLaren paid FIA as a fine for the Spygate saga..

    5. W Johnson says:

      Exactly. And how much profit did Bernie make from the original deal? More than $100million? Another bad day for Formula 1.

      1. F1heroes says:

        Actually a good day for F1. The boss is not convicted, what would have been very bad for F1. The boss pays 100m to equalise some of the damage he caused. What would have been the point of jailing a 80+ year person so he dies in prison and no money comes out of him? It’s a pragmatic arrangement for both sides. The boss is so rich he can easily do without 100m and some poor children get some consolation money. There’s nothing sinister in the whole affair.

    6. Seifenkistler says:

      The point was that they had to prove that Ecclestone knew that he bribed a member of a state bank (which is a major crime) and not one of a private bank.
      100000000 dollar seem much for bribing a person of a normal bank but it is low considering the damage done and if he knew that he bribed a state embloyee.

    7. Sasidharan says:

      Excatly what I thought to write

      1. Sasidharan says:

        Exactly

  2. Adam says:

    If I understand correctly, the case against Bernie was weak, and rather than go through the stressful process, Bernie has been able to pay for this to go away. He was probably not going to be convicted, but now the burden is gone – $100m for some peace.

    It is interesting that, in Germany, you have the possibility in some cases to pay a settlement and avoid jail time. A nice solution for the rich to get away with crime.

    1. meltwaterfalls says:

      Really you came to the conclusion that Bernie paid $100 million because the case against him wasn’t very strong?

      Well I suppose that is one way of looking at it.

      1. Adam says:

        Yes…the German system allows such ‘fines’ is judgement is expected to be difficult (i.e.weak case to find Bernie guilty).

      2. Doobs says:

        The judgement isn’t difficult if you’re innocent.

      3. meltwaterfalls says:

        yep and like most innocent people in Germany Bernie pays $100,000,000.00 at the end of the case, that must be a very well funded legal system Germany has.

    2. [mod]

      Some system ya got there m’boy. But wait — doesn’t one of the F-1 teams get an extra bit that no one else gets every year? Business as usual, methinks. And the fans keep on a-payin’ at the gate and through the telly, too. Sweet.

      Assuming that this does wake up the UK Tax Authorities that there’s money to be made for the Crown, it will be interesting to see how much of a tithe will allow them to keep a straight face.

      And then Mercedes takes a hit when their (unofficial) spokesman claims it will be good for the sport when it happens.

      Sad.

      1. Grabyrdy says:

        Does anyone know if the UK tax authorities have ever bothered to look into what Bernie was trying so expensively to keep them in the dark about (misuse of family trusts) ? If not, why not ?

    3. falonso says:

      The case was actually so weak that the banker went to jail i.e.the bribe was proven. Come on!!!

      1. Shawn says:

        I read on another site that the banker gets $44 million of the $100 million payout. Not a bad salary while in jail.

    4. Anonym says:

      It allows German Prosecutors to save face also if they think they cannot win.

  3. lesthegringo says:

    So, let me get this straight – you [mod] someone, then you pay the court to accept the bribery…?

    Who says crime doesn’t pay…?

    1. AndyFov says:

      You have to give it to the wily old [mod]. He [mod] Gribkowsky and now he’s [mod] the German [mod] [mods].

      What a [modding] [mod] ?!!

      1. BobbyT says:

        I love inserting expletives of choice in that mod-tastic post. Very entertaining and funny

      2. Random 79 says:

        And a modding good time was had by all :)

      3. Thompson says:

        Lol…… excellent work there mods, funny

      4. Hudson says:

        This one made me laugh a lot. Thanks Andy, you made my day!

      5. Ravi says:

        There is something about Bernie ! I guess he will talk the devil out of his death one day too !…

        Anyway, I admire Bernie and I’m glad he is back – ya shoot me for saying this but if you can find a way around a problem, you do !

        Long Live Bernie !

      6. Sasidharan says:

        that was mod! :)

    2. +10 ! And now a [mod]-ern [mod]-ification for the language in how we share with James that he loves ! Something good to come outa the box after all ! Good Job !

      1. Christmas Dinner says:

        “Be not afraid of [mod], some are born [mod],some achieve [mod] and others have [mod] thrust upon them”
        Bernie, Berlusconi, Blatter..we are truly in an age of great [mod] enlightenment

        NB – anyone purporting to be a certain “William Shakespeare” take issue with the above quote myself and my legal team will rigorously refute any allegations of impropriety until such time as we decide to throw some money at the problem to make it go away

      2. Michael Powell says:

        [mod] [mod] [mod] [mod] [mod] [mod] [mod] [mod] [mod] [mod] [mod] [mod] [mod] [mod] [mod] [mod] [mod] [mod] There, I’ve said all I want to on this subject.

      3. James Allen says:

        Glad you got that off your chest!

    3. Michael Powell says:

      Part of the problem here is that we are in a different country and few of us here are familiar with the court system over there. This looks to us as a simple choice, as we have in the UK, between guilty and not-guilty. We, though have an option for the prosecution service to not take a case to court despite having evidence, and we have facility for the trial judge to instruct the jury to do various things on the basis of law rather that the facts of the case.

      In other words, it’s not a black or white system and we are unfamiliar with the subtleties.

      In the case we are agitated over, the defendant was not convicted, therefore not guilty. However, his payment was accepted, so the system accepted his admission of some responsibility, otherwise why offer it. Perhaps in the jurisdiction an admission of responsibility for the mess they were all in is a third option we are less than familiar with. Perhaps it means not guilty but not innocent either.

      In his defence, Bernie admitted that he was wrong to offer so much money, especially as the judge in the case was reported as saying that there was a weak case. You might also draw some conclusion from the fact that the accused was not locked up for the duration of the court hearing, as might be the situation here in a serious case. Perhaps this is normal, but perhaps it reflects how seriously, or not, the court viewed the evidence.

      In any case, the court is the court. It’s not for us without sight of the evidence, let alone the facts, to make a better assessment. This is not a beauty contest, we cannot appoint ourselves as executioners simply because we might find Bernie distasteful.

      But we can think what we want about his methods, associates and judgement. This is a small business after all. It employs a very small number of people directly, and perhaps up to 10,000 in teams, with as many in suppliers. Compared with supermarket chains or airlines this is tiny and very unimportant. It’s similar to many small family concerns that has grown like Topsy, and is now a huge cash-cow for it’s aged proprietor.

      What sometimes happens is that the old owner sees the end coming, and rushes to squeeze the most from his assets before it’s too late. Taking risks is part of the process. Sometimes customers feel short-changed. They might feel its time to look elsewhere.

      Just remember that other racing formulae are available. For many years people imagined that only the IBM PC would work for them, nothing else was good enough. Where are they now? Then Microsoft ruled the roost and was seemingly unassailable. But others stepped forward. It happens all the time. It’s not controlled by a change in the underlying product, but in the perception of that product, it’s image to the customers, whether it feels a good buying experience anymore.

      Perhaps now is the time for a change in the guard. After the figurehead leader, the second generation is usually bland, corporate, invisible, and traditional. I remember when every elevator needed a man in it to drive it between floors and stop accurately. We couldn’t imagine it all working without him. But elevators work much better now he’s no longer there.

  4. lesthegringo says:

    So lets make sure no-one can say that he [mod] someone then paid to get those [mod] charges dropped. By the way, I put in the open brackets, ‘mod’ and close brackets to save you guys the hassle of doing it yourselves…. what a complete [mod] joke

    1. James Allen says:

      If he hasn’t been found guilty of bribery then you can’t say he was, can you?

      1. lesthegringo says:

        While it may be true, it is also the most disingenuous remark I have seen you write on this site. I know that libel law dictates that you cannot say otherwise, but we know he has acted in less than an honourable way.

        I am wearing a black armband, justice seems to have died

      2. Saxon says:

        James do you know if Gribkowsky was offered the same opportunity to settle his case via a financial settlement, or was his charge seen as being that much more serious or his guilt more provable, I hope so otherwise it seems very unwholesome that one person ends up serving a not insignificant amount of time in jail while another is able to pay their way out of it. Obviously I realize that the two were charged with different things, but on a superficial level it seems very unjust.

      3. AndyFov says:

        It seems not. Not even whilst someone’s still serving a sentence for being bribed. :)

        Seriously though, I understand your position.

      4. Jock Ulah says:

        Well then, the German courts should have opened the verdict to the auction process. Maybe a detractor would had offered £70m to sway their judgement . . ?

      5. MC says:

        Do you believe that “found guilty” and “is guilty” are the same thing?

      6. Brachistochrone says:

        The case never went to completion so yes legally he can’t claim to be guilty. but on this charge I would opt for the Scottish option of “not proven”; which means we think you did it but can’t prove it. Hardly the ideal for a company looking for a stock market IPO.
        Ecclestone should be great fun he was not tried in the states. Over there corporate fraud is a Federal offence and has some serious penalties. Plus you do you time in Supermax prisons.
        An example is Bernie Maidoff and his Ponzi scheme. That netted him 150 years in prison. when he heard the sentence he told the judge ‘ I won’t live that long’, to which the judge replied: ” Do the best you can.”

      7. YouWho says:

        No and if course $100, 000,000.00 has nothing to do with that..Zeros added to highlight the gravity of his ….situation

      8. David R says:

        I hope you’re being sarcastic James, I mean look at Lauda, he just disgraced himself with those comments about Bernie.

      9. Chris says:

        One side of the coin was found guilty. The other half found another $100 million to stuff into the German prosecutor’s pockets to come to a “non-conclusion”

        Come on James. I know you’re saying that simply because you’re a journalist who has to protect what you say carefully, but surely don’t write such daft arguments.

      10. James Allen says:

        Sorry, I don’t get you.

        Regardless of what you might feel about BE and what conclusions you may have drawn from the trial and from this settlement, the case was essentially ‘not proven’ – there’s no doubt that if the prosecutors had believed that they were going to get a conviction the trial would still be going on.

        Aside from taking care to avoid libel by posters here on the site, I’m not protecting any “position”, merely stating the facts as they were announced today.

      11. eeyore says:

        I understand the reluctance to allow a potentaily libelous comment on the web-site. However, I see no problem repeating Mr Justice Newey’s conclusions on Ecclestone’e evidence in the Constantin case: “I find it impossible to regard him as a reliable or truthful witness”.

      12. James Allen says:

        No problem with that. We reported it extensively at the time

      13. PxB says:

        Who’s going to mod Bernie’s claim that he was “more or less acquitted”? He was neither acquitted nor convicted.

        However I reckon this pay-off “more or less” confirms there was a realistic chance of conviction.

      14. Andy says:

        Your comments on this James are quite vanilla. I like your website but I increasingly feel that your journalism is like those who never said anything against Lance Armstrong. Your comment below regarding the prosecution’s ability to win the case ignores the obvious opposite – BE wouldn’t have settled if he thought he was going to win, as many have pointed out. He offered 25m, which wasn’t enough, so 100m should do it. Everyone has their price, that was what bought the prosecution, weak case or not. Just want some more cutting views from you James and more recognition of some people’s dissatisfaction with F1 and the morality of some of its leaders.

      15. James Allen says:

        You want me to see the world as you see it, in other words.

        There are plenty of other sites where opinion masquerades as journalism. Perhaps you’d be happier there.

      16. finster says:

        He who has the most money wins. Bernie won. As for the comparison stated about Madoff, he was small potatoes. The real culprits were the corporate raiders that through their lobbyists relaxed lending rules to allow anyone with a paycheck to buy a $400k home. It was a train wreck in the making. The real criminals walked away with 100′s of millions in bonuses and resigned to their private island. Bernie built F1. Did he put millions out of work, cause economic chaos world wide doing so? No he didn’t. Elsewhere in the world its called a bribe. Here in the good ole, justice is our motto USA, its called lobbying.
        The straw that will break the back of F1 will be to put it in the hands of people that see only the bottom line and nothing but the profit they will see from it, disregarding the sport that is popular world wide. When it get squeezed for every dollar, pound, Euro, they will do what corporations do best. Ceo’s get 100′s of millions in bonuses, bankrupt or sell and retire to their private islands and F1 will be gone as we know it. As far as Bernies actions, well they speak for themselves. He has built an empire, and I say again he hasn’t ruined the economy of any country in the process.
        I know many here are from the UK and Europe and I do apologize if I have offended anyone. F1 is facing a identity crisis that is being fueled by rules being made by committee. The FIA are the rule makers. To have teams, manufacturers threaten to quit unless they get their way is laughable. Leaves us asking is anyone really in charge? I would hope Bernie buys CVC out. Take the veto power away from the teams. They are the competitors, not rule makers. If Merc, Red Bull or Ferrari dont agree then don’t let the door hit you on the back of the head leaving.

      17. Dave P says:

        James, you are kidding me….? the facts as reported today? Lets look at that… whatever the court said is likely to be tainted by the fact that the court (District) got $99million and the charity a whoping $1 million…

        Well lets see… I do not think the court is going to say it was a dead cert he was going to be found guilty… are they… and Bernie… faced with the facts is obviously going to pay…

        So facts are not exactly clear here are they….

      18. p.relli says:

        I suppose Mr. Gribowski should be set free, as he could not possibly have accepted a bribe which was never paid…..

      19. iceman says:

        Surely the outcome of the Gribkowsky case is proof, in a legal sense, of whether Gribkowsky received a bribe from Bernie Ecclestone?

      20. Drgraham lewis says:

        No James – we would not want you to see the world as we do…

        That’s the one where the charity gets 1m and the German legal system keeps 99m…

        That would of course be completely the wrong way to see it?

    2. Andy says:

      No James, I’m not saying that. ‘Sorry, I don’t get you’.

      1. Richard says:

        Andy, and all, do we really need to care about this so much? BE created modern F1, he owned it, he owned a successful team in it, he started the whole TV franchise so that you can watch it, he built a strong business for all involved in it, he owned the brand and sold it while still running it commercially.

        Personally I think it’s crazy he can’t simply decide who should own it, the fact people think he needs to bribe some sleazy banker to do so seems to discredit his position in the sport in the first place. This deal with the German court is ridiculous to us, but we’re not BE. We enjoy F1 for the racing, arguing like this about such things based only on what you’ve read in the press is not why we’re here. I get that it’s your opinion but there’s no reason to argue the site should present a one-sided view.

        For my part I very much enjoy the largely unbiased view James presents here and on the site in general. It’s what marks the site out as somewhere we can rely on reading facts over opinion, unlike other journalists in F1.

  5. Jonathan says:

    I find it highly amusing that he can now claim to be not guilty – I reckon $100m is a hell of a lot of proof of guilt!

    Having said that if the crime is not too damaging on others then this should happen a lot more. To those that say he should be in prison – what is the point? That only costs the taxpayer more. $100m covers the cost of a whole prison for a quite a while.

    Those that commit fraud should not be allowed to keep the proceeds. The UK taxpayers paid for Lestor Piggot to spend a year in prison for not paying tax. A year later he went back to the luxurious home he bought with his withheld tax. IT should have been taken away from him. I have no issue with such fraudsters being allowed to pay over the odds to avoid jail.

    Let’s face it no banker has even been tried yet – and they inflicted far more damage to our economy!

    1. Phil says:

      Not guilty is not the same as innocent ;-)

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        Who said the Germans didn’t have a sense of humour?

  6. Kristiane Cyrus says:

    Isn’t that kinda like Bernie [mod] the German prosecutors to end the case?!??!

    o_O……………………

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      And that, in a nutshell is the issue!

      1. Kristiane says:

        Let us all accuse Bernie of something, double points for one, in the meantime might as well blame him for the tyres and other farce that F1 has had for the past few years. He might pay us off to take the blame off him LOL :D

  7. Dmitry says:

    He-he, nice dodge, Bernie! =)

    Though I do not have so much love for Bernie, personally, I am glad this is resolved that way for many reason. Most important of which – F1 doesn’t need any more of negative information.

    1. meltwaterfalls says:

      I would imagine this will cause quite a bit of negative coverage for F1.

      Also Bernie makes a large chunk of his money from F1. In this case there is $100m (perhaps $144m) floating around in payments. Next time you see a price increase in Grand Prix tickets or subscription fees you may want to think about how that $100/144 million is made up.

      1. Dmitry says:

        All the negativity in this case will be from those unhappy with decision.
        And not for the reason, that someone has done something criminal or utterly illegal… which would have been far mre damaging to the image of F1, because surely this would have resulted in some more suites, charges, etc.
        What we have now – is a “win-win” for all involved parties (well, except for Mr.G), and F1 can now freely move on to matters of more importance.

        [mod] I can only say, that this is a publicly acceptable legal system. If it allows to and has ways for 83-old not to spend 10 years in jail – then I am ok with it.
        And to comment all this Bernie-Mr.G. shady deals – let me just remind you that F1 is a multi-billion dollar business. And as every (100%) other multi-billion dollar businesses – it has some shady moments. It is just the way of business, and trying to make a single 83-old man a scapegoat for this has no sense at all.
        Please try to find any TOP100 (Top500, Top1000) Forbes company without any similar case or something even more shady. You won’t find such.

  8. Paul D says:

    If you threw that guy into a snakepit, he’d come up wearing snakeskin shoes.

    1. Random 79 says:

      And a smile :)

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        Don’t forget the full rights to that smile…………although currently CVC own about half of Mr E’s face.

  9. Matthew M says:

    well… I guess Ferrari can always hire Bernie to replace Alonso, sure he’s old but Bernie never seems to loose anything.

  10. Richard Mee says:

    I hope CVC are picking-up the tab…

  11. Chris says:

    If the old saying of innocent to proven guilty holds true, is he innocent?
    The guy he bribed, and then probably lied about, has gone down for 8 years in prison. The fact he went to jail, and the fact he’s paid this sums tells you precisely where Bernie was heading. Now that he has been let off, surely the person who has gone to jail should be released, it takes two to tango a bribe surely?
    Bernie better hope there’s no afterlife; you can’t buy your way into Heaven.
    The court should have made the settlement a billion; I bet Bernie would still have paid it. If I was a sponsor of F1, I would demand change!
    James can you see any problems from sponsors/people/countries Bernie has made arrangements with over this?

    1. Manalive says:

      ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ is a feature of English law. Other law systems have a third category – ‘not proven’.

      1. GWD says:

        And the greater world law is: Innocent until proven not wealthy

    2. Monktonnik says:

      As far as I understand it, European law does nit consider people”innocent until they are proven guilty”; it is up to the individual to prove their innocence.

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        European law is a load of rubbish – or should that be “merda” or “schiesse”!
        Thank the Good Lord for English Common Law – I bet anyone from the English speaking Anglosphere countries would rather stick with the law system of the Mother Country rather than the crooked system in continental Europe which hasn’t changed since the Romans!

    3. Jim says:

      Could not agree more, was reading through the comments to make sure nobody had beat me to it. You did ;-)

      1. Chris says:

        I bet the fee for the next British Grand Prix deal will go up!! Probably the German race as well! Infact they all will!!

  12. Nick says:

    ironic that you can buy your way out of a bribery charge.

    i suppose it would be without any admission of guilt, therefore clearing the way for him to continue as F1′s ringmaster. Fair assessment?

  13. Rich says:

    [mod]
    Amazing how a shed load of money can stop you being prosecuted. Good old judicial system.

    I guess the case was always about how much Bernie would have to pay to renumerate the ‘lost earnings’. Not whether he was guilty of bribery or not.

  14. patrick takashi says:

    Bernie made a rod for his own back by making too much money which in turn attracts the vultures like Gribkowsky who think they can run Formula One.

    It is Bernie who has made Formula One what it is today.

    Given all the factors concerned this is a sensible soulution.

  15. Mitchw says:

    My understanding of the law in Germany is that the fine must outweigh the offense. But Bernie will claim his innocence. I rise in awe and admiration.

    Now someone explain how Gribkowski is rotting in jail.
    And thank you, James, for quoting Niki as averring that Bernie has ‘done everything right.’
    What a mismanaged joke F1 has become, to be so dependent upon one aging person.

    Again, I rise in admiration of Bernard Ecclestone

  16. Matt W says:

    If F1 really wants to stop the decline, Bernie needs to go. He has become a liability, barely a week goes by without him attracting bad press to the sport. It needs a bold, new, younger generation in charge now to make F1 relevant again and bring fresh ideas. Bernie is out of ideas and completely out of touch with the modern world and the F1 fanbase. Every idea he comes up with is universally derided, yet it is pushed through at a phenominal rate, with no fan consulation or research done. Why are fans walking away? Because time and again Bernie does not listen to what the fans really want. The fans feel they have virtually no voice.

    DRS, KERs etc, aren’t really the issue. It is insane ideas like the medal system which he initially pushed through, double points finale (again, nobody other than Bernie called for this), PPV TV packages, stupid ideas like Tour De France chicanes, sprinklers, drivers in different cars every race etc that he frequently threatens that drives the fan base away.

    This latest controversy has been an absolute disgrace to the sport. Any other reasonable figure, aside from Sepp Blatter, would have stepped away for the good of the sport. Lauda, Horner and the other main figures from the teams are totally deluded if they think Bernie can fix the problems the sport is facing, he created them! The teams can come and go, circuits can come and go, drivers and engine manufacturers can and will come and go, but if you treat the fans like idiots as has been the case for the last 5 or so years, and they will walk away and not come back. If you run F1 as entertainment rather than sport, you have to expect the viewing figures to fluctuate like your average soap opera.

    F1 is not seen as legitimate. It is as plain as day that removing Bernie would be an instant PR boost for the sport, appoint a proper panel in place as many sports do to run the show, and start to clean up and modernise the sport. It is frankly insulting that the sport believes there is only one man in the entire world with the fate of the sport on his shoulders. It isn’t true of the Premier League, it isn’t true of FIFA (Sepp Blatter at least has to be elected and doesn’t have unlimited power), it isn’t true of Rugby and Cricket, or Golf, Tennis, Moto GP, the vast majority of nations have new leaders every 5-10 years. Why does F1 need this one man to remain in charge for decades and decades, going from one scandal to another, one blunder to the next?

    Enough is enough, if the decline is to end before it is fatal, Bernie has to go.

    1. meltwaterfalls says:

      Pretty much in full agreement.

      I won’t be surprised if we get some new information about a London Grand Prix, double points or sprinkler systems in the next few days. Anything to move this story away from the headlines.

    2. Chris says:

      Best comment I’ve read in awhile. Well articulated!

    3. Chris C says:

      Not condoning anything that has gone before. Nor championing any one individual/group or solution…

      But my worry is that when you get panels/committees involved or corporate investors driving anything, the tendency is towards the lowest common denominator or the safe option.

      There are circumstances where that is the right outcome. But IMHO for a sporting business it is not. And that is the challenge, it is a sport that must work as a business.

      Balancing those two is the real skill.

    4. Dave P says:

      Asoluetly spot on… Its my sentiments exactly…. James please coment on this and not silly posts….

      All this talk of a ‘meeting to sort out F1, whenits simple… get a younger minded person in instead of B.E. James do a poll on it….

      I cannot believe the F1 fraternity goes on supporting someone (with the greatest respect) could croak itany minute…. madness

  17. Jock Ulah says:

    Two wrongs do, in fact, make a ‘right’ . . ! . . ?

    £26m -> £60m (the latter a ‘mitigating circumstance’?) . . .
    CVC stumps up out of petty cash?

    Triple points for last race of the year about to follow?

  18. Vague says:

    One mod for the rich and another for the poor.

    I like Bernie, but it’s the ultimate irony, isn’t it?

    I’m sure he’ll be chuckling himself to sleep tonight.

  19. Hello says:

    That’s makes it all square in my book.

    100 million for Mclaren and now a 100 million for Bernie.

    1. BobbyT says:

      Not really, it would be all square if Max Mosely paid the fine given he was the one that went after McLaren.

      But then I guess there is some balance, Bernie get fined $100 Million and Max is exposed as a dirty old man who role plays with 5 prostitutes…

      1. KRB says:

        The German legal system is the old whore in the analogy.

        There’s no whore like an old whore!!!

  20. sTELIOS says:

    You could see this one coming a mile away !!!

    The issue here is not if “justice” has been served. The point was that Mr Eccelstone was charged because he allegedly bribed Mr Gribkowsky so that the F1 shares where sold to a party of his preference, in order to maintain control of the sport.
    If this is the case, then the 3 German Banks lost in the deal, as they did not get the price they could have for the shares.

    Now, the Banks could not care less if Mr Eccelstone goes to jail or not for this, or if he looses control over F1. Banks only care for one thing, and that is $-MONEY-$.
    So reaching an agreement with a monetary settlement makes sense for bot parties.
    Banks get $$$ back, Eccelstone gets of the hook and everybody is happy.

    If there is justice served and if Mr Eccelstone is innocent or not are just irrelevant…

    1. franed says:

      It makes a very big difference to F1, if Bernie were to be found guilty he would have been removed from his directorship at both Detas and FOM. He may have been declared an unsuitable person and FOM may have lost the 100 year agreement. Huge (and much needed) upheavals would have taken place.
      Instead look forward to customer teams and three car teams.
      (these being a way to deal with the lack of sponsorship.

      1. stelios says:

        That is correct, but neither the banks (that lost money), neither the German court actually care about this…
        The Banks are only there to make money, or at least not loose it. The German court has no authority or concern on what happens to F1.

      2. eeyore says:

        Whilst Ecclestone remains in “day-to-day control” of F1 commercial operations, he was removed as a director of FOM before the trial started, according to an announcement by CVC.

        What’ll be fascinating to watch is how CVC reacts to their predicament – this outcome does nothing to clarify the situation. Would they make more money with or without Ecclestone?

  21. Scott D says:

    A shameful day for justice, where the super rich can buy immunity from criminal charges, and those of lesser means face a prison term. It’s the kind of stuff I would expect from a third world country.

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      The EU and the EuroZone may as well be a third world country………………..look at the likes of Italy and Ireland with their corruption and poverty.
      Oh well, I’m giving the Commonwealth nations a big friendly wave and the EU a two fingered salute!

      1. meltwaterfalls says:

        Of course there is very little history of corruption in the countries of the commonwealth. That is why I have invested all my money with this Nigerian prince that contacted me by e-mail. And I am sure Bernie may have some acquaintances in the British Virgin Islands as well.

      2. Gaz Boy says:

        I was being a bit flippant, but, you have to admit, you would have thought a major industrialised economy like Germany would have a much tougher policy on bribery and corruption.
        I thought the Germans would have very strict anti-corruption laws………….apparently not.
        If Mr E had pulled this stunt in the major Commonwealth Nations of Canada, UK, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand then he would almost certainly be eating porridge.

  22. Nator says:

    The Wiley ol fox slips through the fence again. Even at his ripe old age he still can swing with the best of em. This bloke is pure genius.

  23. BobbyT says:

    Nice of the Germans to generously split the [mod] payment/settlement with a charity. It would have been much nicer if $99 million went to the charity and $1 to the government…

    1. Shakers97 says:

      Who gets the other $999,999?

  24. IgMi says:

    I am not sure yet is this good or bad for the sport. It could be bad on the short term, but it could be good on the long term (no guarantees there, though). For me it would be all about how Ecclestone, the F1 owners, and the sport participants react to this news. I would also like to see what would prosecutors officially say. I am bracing for a disappointment.

    Questions:

    If Ecclestone did not have the money for some reason, would he still face the charges? Would the “the case is weak” and “the accused is of an old age” be used to stop proceedings against a person that could not conjure $100 million?

    Was it all about how much money prosecutors can squeeze out? Would they be interested in let’s say $100K if that was all somebody in Ecclestone’s position would be able to offer?

    For some reason I do have a feeling like I need to take a shower.

  25. Leslie D'Amico says:

    HA HA HA HA HA HA HA LMAO!!! I’ve said it all along, he with the most money wins, morality be damned, call me a cynical American but money talks! It’s all about the money!!!

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      Do you know what, I bet people living in the English speaking “Anglosphere” countries are thinking the Old World is full of countries that have crooked and corrupt systems.
      And you know what? Can’t say I blame them.
      Of course, it used to be the joke that Italy, France and recently Ireland all took back handers if you had problems with the law………….now we can add Germany to that list of nations that think bribery and embezzlement is not worthy of a custodial sentence.
      If a person from the English speaking countries said to me European countries are full of crooked, corrupt systems – you know what, I’d agree with them and couldn’t defend them in any way.
      Sorry, Germany, but you have gone down in my estimation. Not the people – but your so called justice system!

      1. kenneth chapman says:

        @ gaz boy…. as a result of your loss of the esteem in which you held the german legal system i am concerned that the german legal fraternity will now be suffering great stress. to lose your support presents them with a dilemma….should they repeal the system or just go on as before and suffer the indignity of your appraisal? tough times ahead for the fatherland, hein!

      2. Gaz Boy says:

        RE Kenneth: You’re right – the Germans have never been bothered what English speaking people think of them…………………..
        Being serious though, it is surprising that an industrial power house economy like Germany has such a law system, but each to their own I suppose………………..or each to their fines I suppose………….

  26. Olivier says:

    U N B E L I E V A B L E

    Capitalism should not interfere with Justice and Democracy.

    Where’s Russell Brand? He’ll show the F1 media how to report on this.

    ——
    Lauda’s comments are very worrying. It is not unimaginable that Bernie is going to die one day. He’d better make use of his newfound freedom to introduce his successor to the inner workings of F1.

  27. Phil Glass says:

    Congrats to Lauda and Mercedes
    I hear they are almost ready to test their new snoop device capable of accessing “… the business, the details of the teams. Everything …” that is in Bernie’s head.

  28. Amir says:

    A disgraceful day for F1 and the idea of justice.

    I have been boycotting F1 since they insisted on racing in Bahrain. Since F1 has turned into such a joke recently, I don’t actually feel like I’m missing out.

    The sport would be better without this man. F1 is just not F1 any more.

    Now I’m wondering when was the last time F1 actually was a sport…

  29. Pkara says:

    Teflon Bernie
    Have money will walk away.
    Though in Britain the judge did say in his summation …I quote ” Mr. Ecclestone cannot be considered a reliable individual, as this court has heard nothing that one can establish to be truthful,with regards to the concerns of Mr.Ecclestone”. After which the Media filmed him walk away with a grin on his face.
    The man reminds me of Bunga Bunga Berlisconni the ex Italian PM & Media Lord. Have money have ticket to walk.
    Surprised the Germans folded so quickly when the cash register opened.
    Brilliant Programme BBC Panorama made which is probably available somewhere in BBC Archives on iplayer which just shows how Bernie juggles his wealth. Any F1 fan should watch it it’ll open your eyes to The House Of Cards that is the F1 Management Juggernaut is.

    I do hope at somepoint we have new blood at the top as F1 needs to be able to judge whats happening in the world before it hands out Grand Prix in countries that are creating death & destruction throughout the globe.
    Mr.E et al show no need abstain from Russia China Bahrain to name but a few instead they have a ” Show must go on” mentality that grates in the eyes of those souls affected by violence , death & acts of
    terror throughout the regions where F1 seems to be heading with open arms!”
    I am surprised that we now have wait until the next saga hits the media before we can have a level playing field in the future of F1. By that time the paper chain & any possible evidence would’ve been incinerated & any electronic links erased .
    Oh well The Show Must Go On Hey Bernie?!

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      I agree with your sentiments, but Germans must take some of the blame for this, in terms of their so called “justice” system allows a billionaire old bloke the opportunity to dodge porridge provided they pay up with a “fine.”
      My attitude towards the EU countries has hardened over this. I always regarded France, Ireland and Italy a bit wayward when it comes to bribery and corruption. Now add Germany to that list……..
      I can say with full confidence that the English speaking “Anglosphere” countries don’t allow a person to “buy their freedom.”
      I agree about China, Bahrain and Russia, but while I accept those countries are crooked and corrupt, unfortunately the same can be said for certain EU countries and their so called “justice system!”

      1. Truth or Lies says:

        [mod] you speak of EU countries and your attitude hardening and your certainty that justice cannot be bought in the “Anglosphere”, this is an odd remark as the UK presumably part of the “Anglosphere”, is also a member of the EU.

        You then lump France, Italy and Ireland together as somehow less legally robust or wayward as you put it compared to the “Anglosphere”. However you completely miss the fact that Irish Law is based primarily on English Law and that both Ireland and France score similarily to the UK in Transparency Internationals rankings. Italy is a different matter however and scores poorly in the same tables. Germany on the other hand scores very highly, higher than the UK.

        Finally I’m not sure how your remarks concerning China, Russia and Bahrain even passed moderation.

      2. Gaz Boy says:

        RE Truth or Laws: Actually squire, in 2013 the Corruption Perception Index Top 10 was dominated by the Nordic and Anglosphere Commonwealth nations – New Zealand, Canada, Australia and Singapore were all in the Top 10 of least corrupt countries. Go figure on that one – maybe its the legacy of parliamentary democracy and English Common Law.
        I have to disagree about Ireland and France, both are economic basket-cases that have always been ranked worse for corruption than the Anglosphere countries. Don’t forget the Irish nation went bankrupt in 2009 and had to be bailed out by loans from, oh yes, countries like the UK.
        There’s something about Catholic countries where bribery and corruption is part and parcel of daily life, and that includes France, Italy and Ireland. However, I thought Germany was a secular, modern, progressive nation that has strict anti-corruption laws. Obviously not.
        If you want a case in point, Danny Boy’s Italian parents emigrated to a Anglosphere country. Do people from the Anglosphere nations emigrate to Italy, Ireland and France in their droves? Thought not.

      3. Gaz Boy says:

        RE Truth or Lies: PS, the UK is a very reluctant member of the EU.
        Actually, I’ve just remembered something: Ireland, Italy, France and Germany are all Republics with a Presidential system, while the Nordic countries and Anglosphere countries of the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore all use the Parliamentary Democracy system.
        So perhaps its the system a country uses that determines their low corruption in a justice system? Interesting………….

    2. Pkara says:

      Truth or lies
      Amnesty International have reported constantly on the suffering of civilians & political detainees whose voices are surpressed by the totalatarian regiemes in China Rusdsia Bahrain to name a few places where F1 goes. The upheaval of indigenous people from region pf Sochi to build The winter olympic village, the race track has been reported by Award winning news organisations. The corruption involing these countries are in the news not on a slow trickle but on tap that cannot be closed however these so called countries try & portray their artificial personas of honesty fairness & humanity. It is for the everyone to see how laughable the situation is. Somehow these heads of state believe their own hype without looking at their global negative impact.

  30. Dave says:

    Seriously. Start watching Indycar. It is just awesome. Montoya Power TK and the rest of the field are so media friendly and are awesome sportsman. No need for the sulking spoilt chops like Hamilton. Fernando you should now go to Indy and join the JPM. Two of the best drivers in history!!!

    1. Phishbone says:

      Good lord, even as we’re mourning the miscarriage of justice, you STILL find a way to take a swipe at HAM. If that’s not hate, I don’t know what is.

    2. Pkara says:

      Dave
      Its incredible that you find the need to involve Lewis in a news story about Bernie.
      You must spend all yr time finding ways to involve Lewis. Which in relvevance to this story is tantamount to being absurd & fantastical.
      I’ve watched Indycar and watched the last race that was on ESPN. Its great but I’ve to say 40% of tge races are dull. Some of the drivers are not as talented as the ones in F1. The safety car comes out alot more due to over enthusiastic drivers without the competency to complete the overtake.
      The pit crews & pitstops seem to from some distant parallel universe & at times comical.
      So I think verying from the actual story is abit odd.

  31. aveli says:

    i did say ecclestone was better then teflon. that clause in the law was drawn up a long time ago, before ecclestone was borne. ecclestone’s legal team simply found it and used it. nothing wrong with that. ecclestone cannot be the first person to have used it and may not be the last to use it either.

  32. franed says:

    It does need to be made clear that this is NOT a “not guilty” verdict.
    If the court felt he was not guilty he would not be paying the fine. This is much closer to guilty than not guilty.
    I am sure the British mainstream press, in one of their rare moments of interest in F1 will take full advantage of the opportunity to highlight the differences between German and British law. and Bernie’s ability to pay without blinking.

    The fine though, is very much lower than the €400M odd Euro that the bank originally wanted and claimed as a loss.

    Whatever the legal niceties it looks very much as if Bernie is buying himself out of court. Were this a civil case there would be no problem, but it is a criminal charge, bribing a public official. To a British frame of mind it is outrageous that this can happen.

    There were two other court cases waiting for the result of this one, Bluewaters and the Swiss, I doubt we shall see them happen now.

    It is a coincidence that HMRC have now been given a blunderbuss to tackle those they think have not paid the correct amount tax, the right to demand payment first then let you prove them wrong in court to get it back seems very undemocratic, however it is the way things will be in future.

  33. meltwaterfalls says:

    Hmm I’ve always been a fan of Nikki Lauda, but must admit his statement at the end has rather taken him down in my estimation.

    Bernie himself has admitted paying $44m to Gribkowsky, now he will be paying $100m to kill off this case.

    Perhaps if that $144m didn’t need to be recouped, tickets for next years German Grand Prix could be a more reasonable cost and it won’t be held infront of 50% empty stands. Just a thought for those thinking this is good news for F1.

  34. Peter says:

    Will we all actually pay for it in tv fees and ticket prices?

  35. BenM says:

    What an absolute farce.

  36. Brace says:

    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.

  37. Andy says:

    You can’t blame Bernie for taking the option, but it’s hardly good PR for Bernie, or for F1 for that matter.

    The obvious conclusion people will draw is why would someone who says they are innocent, and think they are confident of winning, pay $100m to settle the case?
    Add to that the irony of a bung to end a bribery case.

  38. S2K says:

    That’s it for me. I won’t watch any Formula One until the [mod] goes… Totally disappointed!

  39. Fulveo Ballabeo says:

    Ridiculous. [mod]

    Mitigating circumstances? Laughable. Was a crime committed, or not? Look for an elderly crime spree if senior citizenship is deemed an acceptable “mitigating circumstance”!

    If you were worth $3B, would you pay $100m to guarantee your freedom? Absolutely! It’s 3% of your net worth. What can’t you do with $2.9B that you could do with $3B? Nothing. It’s a pesky $100M “tax” on bad behavior, but not a disincentive. Rules for the rich, and rules for the rest of use. No one comes off looking good here.

  40. Ol' Peculier says:

    “He has built everything up over three decades and is the only one who knows everything — the business, the details of the teams. Everything is in his head.

    And hereby lies the big problem – no business should be dependent on just one person, and CVC have only themselves to blame for letting him get to this position. But, what would happen if he was to be hit by the mythical “big red bus” I was warned about during college (in my case – document!)

  41. goonerf1 says:

    Can anyone honestly say they’re surprised that this is the outcome?

    [mod]

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      To be honest, all of us should have done our homework concerning the German Law system…….
      I don’t know much about the German judiciary system – coming from the “Anglosphere” I’m used to English Common Law. However, I would have assumed – wrongly as it turned out – that as Germany as a major industrialised economy, it had very, very strict anti-corruption laws as it likes to present itself as a honest and fair country to do business in.
      How naive was I? Very!
      It’s always been a bit of a joke in the Anglosphere that France and Italy were corrupt and you could bribe the system with backhanders, but Germany, the birthplace of the Protestant Work Ethic? I never would have thought in the country which broke away from the decadent, corrupt Catholic Church to form a more transparent, honest system somebody accused of embezzlement could “buy their freedom”.
      I do know in the Nordic countries and Holland bribery and corruption is treated with great severity and long custodial sentences, so it’s not entirely fair to blame crooked systems purely on European countries.
      I suppose the one side effect is that Germany’s law system has been exposed for the flawed concept it is, and the English speaking and Nordic countries could benefit from investors looking to put their money in country which has a much more fair, honest, transparent law system.
      Paying for way out of a conviction? What is this, ancient Rome?

      1. F1heroes says:

        You desperately like to see Bernie eating porridge it seems. About UK they had a strong economy until unions ruined it (British Leyland).

  42. PeterF says:

    So is this an admittance of guilt?

    1. F1heroes says:

      No. Prosecution could not prove that the payment was a bribe. Could have been a payment out of the threat to report to British Tax authorities. Innocent until proven guilty is the point.

  43. StephenAcworth says:

    I think people are missing the detail here: a lot of the prosecution’s case depended on evidence due to be given by Gribkowsky. Apparently, that evidence has failed to materialize in the way it was supposed to which has led to the judge becoming very frustrated with the prosecution. Under the circumstances, it would appear that the judge decided that it was better to settle than to drag out the process and end up with a possible non-conviction.
    However, this leaves the question of why Gribkowsky’s evidence, once thought to be so strong ultimately became confused and weak… conspiracy theorists do your work!!!

  44. Witan says:

    If Ecclestone wasn’t guilty of bribery why is he paying so much in a fine?

    If he was guilty of bribery he is unfit to hold his job as F! ringmaster and it must raise serious worries about the deals done with those paragons of virtue, Azerbaijan and Russia.

    CVC has a lot of clearing up to do and quickly please, otherwise the golden goose they want to float on the Singapore stock market might catch more than a cold.

    1. Mike84 says:

      Actually it doesn’t imply guilt, if you’re at any risk at all of prison for the rest of your life, you’d gladly give up 2% of your worth to ensure your safety. If you’ve ever stood in court or served on a jury then you may know that being innocent is not reliable protection, remember what happened to Jesus? Weird stuff happens in court.

  45. Moog says:

    Odds on some F1 team breaking some rule and getting 100 mill fine to fund this? :)

  46. Fantasies, for sure. Very difficult to avoid the sense that J.K. Rowling is actually ‘ghosting’ the script for F-1 these days. Especially with the deal to race in Azerjkban where the dementors are lurking guarding the underworld prison. At least that way they won’t be looking to take him into their netherworld.

    The German court can’t look much different than the court in Potter’s magical,non-muggle world, now, can it?

  47. Joe says:

    And we wonder why F1 is losing its appeal!!

    1. Stephen Taylor says:

      +1000 . Bernie needs to walk away for the credibility of F1.

  48. Stephen Taylor says:

    GUILTY in my view .

    1. Shakers97 says:

      Well officially he’s not so you’ve just liabled a very rich man on a public forum using your really name.

      1. Stephen Taylor says:

        Well why has he paid a settlement .he must have something to hide. Guilty in view as I said before.

    2. Shakers97 says:

      You need to remember that all this comes as a culmination of a very long and very costly trial. Lawyers, trips to Germany and Mr Ecclestone’s time, which is worth many ’000′s more per hour than yours or mine, doesn’t come cheap. Safe to perhaps conclude then that this was a judgement call made because things weren’t looking too rosy for the defence team. So yes you might conclude that he’s guilty but officially Mr Ecclestone is neither guilty not innocent in the eyes of the German legal system, although clearly not you as you’ve so clearly articulated – twice.

  49. John Marshall says:

    Others have said plenty that I agree with about the settlement. So, I’ll only add this:

    Lauda – “He has built everything up over three decades and is the only one who knows everything — the business, the details of the teams. Everything is in his head.”

    Do they not see the huge problem with this situation? This is crazy.

    1. eeyore says:

      Of course it’s crazy! But only in such an environment can characters like Ecclestone thrive.

    2. Jock Ulah says:

      Feels like I’ve been watching virtual F1 for decades courtesy of BE’s mind-Matrix.

      Certainly a huge problem –
      Hope he doesn’t succumb to Alzheimer’s any time soon or else I’ll forget who won the last race.

      F1? What is this F1? What is a ‘race’?

      1. Random 79 says:

        Just take the little red pill and ignore the sequels.

  50. Jason says:

    Who says not everyone has a price :) Just saying.

    Now for that 100 mill bill to be passed to tracks… and onto fans…

  51. Yevgeniy-P says:

    There’s a discussion here whether F1 should go to “not pleasant places” or not. In these countries such sorts of things are done without drawing public’s attention, ’cause they are forbidden by the law. Anybody found him/herself in a situation like this uses his /her connections to stay clean.

    No need for Mr Ecclestone’s to keep any secrets. The question is, what’s bad about these places, lack of transparency? Is this transparency good?

    _____________________________________________________________________

    Such things do not contribute to the positive image of F1. Bad way of advertising.

  52. Rich C says:

    It could, of course, be that the guy *was trying to blackmail Bernie and the so-called “evidence” he was supposed to present turned out to be BS.
    Just because he’s smarter and richer than the rest of you lot doesn’t mean he’s guilty of anything.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Could be, but I’d bet the other way…

  53. IgMi says:

    This situation reminded of a joke…

    An elderly lady sits next to a young handsome man in an airplane. The lady takes a long look at the young man and asks: “Excuse me, young man, would you have sex with me for a million dollars?”

    The man takes a long look at the lady thinking: “She is is old and wrinkled and who knows what I am going to find under the underwear, but million dollars is million dollars.”

    “Yes, I would,” he finally says.

    The lady nods and after a short pause asks again: “Excuse me, young man, would you have sex with me for 20 dollars?”

    The man looks back and frowns at the lady: “No! Who do you think I am?”

    “Who you are we’ve already established, it is all about the price now,” comes the answer.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Lol :)

  54. Steve Zodiac says:

    Bernie was doing pretty well in this case but he obviously wasn’t confident of winning. The German court was also doing pretty wee but they too were obviously not confident of winning. Now everyone’s won except Gribowski so Bernie got his revenge. And all for a bit of pocket money!

    1. Steve Zodiac says:

      No the Germans weren’t doing pretty wee! ugh! They were doing pretty well!

      1. Random 79 says:

        That’s a good one ;)

  55. Thompson says:

    Lol…… Brilliant thread

    But guys, we have 3weeks till the next race, so pls pace yourselves. If we use up the good stuff now we’re [mod]

    As for Bernie….. Money talks is the moral of this story.

    1. Random 79 says:

      It’s funny seeing the word “moral” in the same sentence as “this story”.

  56. dufus says:

    Gotta hand it to Teflon Eccelstone.

  57. finster says:

    Gaz,

    Except for Gribkowsky. Given Bernie is simply paying a fine, a very large fine, I think Gribkowsky should be pardoned. Fair is fair, right?

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      Indeed – the double standards are incredible!

  58. Martin Dooley says:

    I know its all been said before but can someone make sure I have this right.

    Some one threatens to expose your tax affairs, (so you are probably avoiding tax)

    You pay the someone in question a large sum of money to keep quiet

    The person who receives the cash is convicted of receiving a bribe

    You go to court for Bribery

    You pay the court a VERY large sum of money

    The court keeps quiet

    I had higher hopes for the German judicial system than that.If you are innocent why do you need to pay out to “close the case”…….

    Couldnt smell more g……………… if you ask me..

    Disgusted

    1. Mike J says:

      +1 .Absolutely !
      I am astounded by this decision.

  59. Hudson says:

    I only ever follow formula 1 for the sport itself and don’t pay much attention to the politics and power fighting. But you can’t help but realise that there are some people who can buy justice in this world. It does leave a sour taste in the mouth, that when most of us would have gone to jail for the lighest of infringements, others just use their money to wriggle their way out of jail. What an unfair world it is, Mr Allen?

    1. Mansell Mania says:

      I’ll answer for James – “yes”

  60. kieran says:

    Finally, hes payed them off. I bet that Lewis’ car ‘suddenly’ becomes reliable again.

    1. KRB says:

      Don’t get the connection. Please explain.

  61. Brent says:

    Truly a disgusting way for a criminal court to work. I hope the German people don’t believe they live in a country where all are equal in the eyes of the law.

    I was hoping we had seen the last of Ecclestone. He is the biggest, single problem with F1.

  62. JPS says:

    F1 with Bernie is like a freak show [mod] I know I should turn away but I can’t help but watch it. We as in the F1 public could get rid of Bernie but he knows we won’t turn away for long enough. They say F1 is a business but in reality no. F1 is a group of entities that come together for a sport/spectacle. Bernie took something that was already popular and monetized it no more. Like Football the popularity was already predetermined all Sep did was divert the cash flow. So to all the people who say look all the good Bernie has done it would have happened anyway. [mod]

  63. Andrew D says:

    No need to have a go at James. He’s stating the facts which are that the court failed to prove Bernie was guilty (ie. no decision either way). Even if we all highly suspect he was guilty we can’t say it as fact without a conviction.

  64. Mike J says:

    Two things

    1. This does not come as a surprise. In many countries for legal situations there is a rule for the rich and a rule for the rest. Its not the first time or the last where a rich person can get a ‘beneficial’ result for themselves. As far as i am concerned BE doesn’t like to give away a $1 yet along 100mil of them so that is an admission of guilt to me.

    2. There is truly only one Bernie Ecclestone. The mould was lost years ago. He is the ultimate Mr Teflon-man.

    Now BE certainly has built F1 to where it is now. But is it in a position where it is growing or ‘dying’? Latest discussions we all see is that there is a lot of negativity and knee jerk decisions being made ‘for the show’.

    Personally i see F1 changing too much and silly decisions being made .

    BE legacy is quickly losing its shine and new blood needs to be brought into f1 leaders to stabilise and take it forward.

    He needs to move on BUT i don’t think he sees it that way.

  65. JohnBt says:

    Don’t think our comments can change anything so let’s enjoy the season and the future as best as we can.

    1. Martin D says:

      Yup I was one one of the moaners but there is nothing we can do so I’m with you, forwards to Belgium

  66. Jorge says:

    $100 million fine plus NR WDC ?, germans did it great!

    1. F1heroes says:

      You’re a Hamilton fan, right?

  67. Anonym says:

    Has it occurred to anyone that this was probably the Prosecutors’ idea because it was now doubtful they could win a case. Also in the gains-vs-loss scenario… if the Prosecutors win (which was already in doubt), their prize would be an 83 year old jail inmate.

    If they were to lose the case, the Prosecutors would be immortalized as having been defeated by Bernie Ecclestone.

    Maybe this settlement was the Proesecutors’ idea then? The system gains 100 million USD, they have a “nobody won, nobody lost” statement… and can just go on with their lives.

    1. James Allen says:

      Ecclestone’s lawyer is reported to have said that the prosecutors approached them about a settlement, rather than the other way around

      1. Anonym says:

        Exactly. It makes sense. If the Prosecutors approached Ecclestone and his team of lawyers because they were seeing their case beaten. Bernie would have a number of choices.

        1) Stick it to the Prosecutors and defeat them eventually in an honest way. But see the case drag on into October. Which is critical as F1 is suffering from a drop in popularity which he would like to pay more attention to now.

        OR

        2) Put the Prosecutors out of their misery by accepting an offer to make a settlement and Bernie can then get on with F1. He knows fully well doing so probably let the Prosecutors off the hook. But he’ll just have to live with it. The problem being he’ll of course be seen as escaping a bribery charge by paying a bribe. Yet he cannot deny that maybe F1 needs him now and cannot be made to suffer another three months without him paying more attention.

        Ultimately Bernie may actually interpret this motion as a “sacrifice” (to his public image… of which he has made more than a few) for the sake of his F1 empire.

  68. Mike says:

    I think Bernie’s judgement will have to wait for God to deal with. Shame we won’t be there to see it.

  69. Mike84 says:

    It’s disgusting that status and money more than guilt determine who gets let off and who gets jailed.

  70. kenneth chapman says:

    after wading through all these posts it appears that a vast majority are ‘morally outraged’. now i’m certainly not to say that all these arguments are without merit but i would say this, ‘if it were you in bernie’s shoes, and that includes all his worldly possessions, would you in all honesty have done anything different? offer up a ‘mia culpa’ and take whatever the court decides to do with you ? c’mon chaps, let’s have some balance here.

    1. C63 says:

      @KC
      if it were you in bernie’s shoes…..

      Of course no one would have done anything different, certainly not me. If I was in the sh#t and could get off the hook by paying, in BE terms, an insignificant fine then I would bite the prosecutors arm off at the shoulder , say thanks very much and be on my way!
      But that’s not the reason for the moral outrage. It’s due to the fact that, on the face of it, a wealthy man can buy his way out of a criminal prosecution. If he committed the crime then he should be found guilty and if he didn’t then he should have been found innocent – that’s what courts do, determine guilt or innocence. Personally, I have a very difficult time understanding how the receiver of a bribe is serving 8 years in prison and the person alleged to have made the bribe does not have to even finish his trial and just walks away with a very slightly lighter wallet.

      1. kenneth chapman says:

        @C63….your point re the grib is identical to posts that i have made in the past. how can one be labelled a ‘bribee’ if there is no ‘briber’. in this instance the grib should be pardoned and given some restitution for false imprisonment. of course this will not happen as it would appear that BE is neither guilty or innocent…just in lawful limbo land…….i think.

  71. WARREN G says:

    “Ecclestone’s defence lawyers said that the arrangement kept his presumed innocence intact.”

    It’s funny, in South Africa, we too can avoid court proceedings for minor offences by paying an Admission of Guilt fine. Surely, this “settlement” of Bernies is just that?

    No matter what though, I don’t see the big issue about it. It’s not like he slaughtered innocent children. He basically just conducted business in the same way that business is actually conducted, just on a bigger scale, that’s all.

  72. p.relli says:

    FIFA, step aside….there’s a new game in town!

  73. scoob010 says:

    Opinion. Knowledge. Know the difference.

    1. Jock Ulah says:

      Money. No money. Spot the discrepancy.

      1. Andy says:

        Nice!

  74. Simon says:

    The Germans were stupid – they should have asked for $3 billion and cleaned Bernie out. He can choose to pay or rot in jail for the next 20 yrs.

  75. Mark says:

    I am amazed this is allowed to happen, even if it is Germany’s own law.

    Imagine if Rolf Harris could pay £1million to end his child abuse court in the UK.

  76. Kieran Donnelly says:

    Not guilty but certainly not innocent!

    The man lacks any sort of credibility or trustworthiness but the teams seem happy to line up behind him and the sponsors, who preach about corporate social responsibility, seem happy for them to do so.

    All about talking the talk …

    1. Kieran Donnelly says:

      In reply to Kenneth above: Yes, of course, most people here would do whatever it took to stave off a prosecution of any kind, especially if there was a custodial sentence involved, but you also have to then ask how many of us have found ourselves in such a situation in the first place? And some people, if their prosecution is regarding a point of principle, will do little to defend themselves? There are a number of questions and actions hanging over Bernie but he has slipped away from them by paying €100 million, which is less than 1/40th. I feel sorry for the banker that got 8 and 1/2 years in the same saga. If he’d only been allowed to pay €1 million out the €33 million that he got then he’d have proportionately paid a little more than Bernie and could have stayed out of jail. Hardly seems fair! Anyway, although I’ll no doubt continue to watch it, having him resume his pseudo-despotic reign is another piece of tarnish on the sport of F1. After the chicanery of Jean-Marie Balestre and Bernie Ecclestone, the sport really needs a more modern, even and balanced approach in its direction

      1. Kieran Donnelly says:

        [edit] … which is less than 1/40th of his overall wealth.

        Also I should have used dollars rather than euro, otherwise I’m implying that he paid even more than he did (€100m = $133m)

      2. kenneth chapman says:

        @ kieran…..people are dumping on bernie but if anything they should be dumping on the ‘system’ that allows this to occur. bernie has simply taken up the offer [enshrined in german law] to purchase a ticket out of there. you would, i would, everyone would. i don’t quite know where it all starts and stops but maybe this option is open to all and sundry? very interesting.

  77. Jon says:

    So this leaves me with 2 questions…

    1. If I remember correctly he was saying that he had no control of the trust fund in his wife name so as to avoid tax implications, if this is the case where is he going to get the money from to pay the “fine”, surely his ability to pay this fine should have the UK tax man looking into his affairs in more detail?

    2. After his trial in London weren’t other companies looking to sue him in regards to this deal, if he is now not guilty where does that leave these companies and their possible court actions against him?

    1. kenneth chapman says:

      in answer to your first question……simply ask slavica for a loan. judging by their reported relationship i doubt whether she’d knock him back.

  78. USGP says:

    Formula 1 brands it’s self as the epitome of motor sports, but it fails to include corruption as part of its mantra.

  79. Frank says:

    that is the law in germany, not only for the rich people. In articles it is stated this law was applied about 60,000 times in 2013. The fine depends on your income.

    ie: you make 4000 a month and get involved in a car accident or so, get sued for like 40,000 Euros. At some point one side says, pay 8,000 Euros and you are free to go. Of course, if you think you are innocent, you can go all the long way until the verdict, but that still might be very expensive when the judge says “guilty”….

    BTW:
    Gribkowsky isn’t a prisoner anymore. He only spend 2 years full time in a pretrial imprisonment and is already on day parole since October 2013. After 25% of your verdict you can file an application for “Freigang” ->day parole. That is what he did and that is surely what Uli Hoeneß will do in November…

    Gribkowsky only comes back for sleeping to a prison like institution at 10 o’clock in the evening. At 7a.m he is free to go again. He can make millions in that time, go to the zoo or watching cartoons the whole day. But he already found a new job and is working in the financial department for an austrian construction company (“Strabag” his former employer) in munich… From the 30 millions so far he paid back 9 millions to BayernLB.

    http://www.sueddeutsche.de/wirtschaft/ehemaliger-bayernlb-vorstand-gribkowsky-darf-vorzeitig-aus-dem-gefaengnis-1.1797133

  80. Treaded Lurgy says:

    Money talks.

  81. Ashboy says:

    All the people who claim this is moraly wrong, I hope when you get stopped for speeding you take the fixed penalty fine and not the option to attend a seminar for the charges to be dropped.

    The German’s did better out of this deal then Bernie, they have $100mil added to there economy insteed of paying to keep an old man or getting nothing. both sides will be happy with this outcome.

  82. greg says:

    Bernie is a determined man and along the way of a long and successful career he would of made some bad choices, paid people more than they should just to make things happen and this goes on daily with big businesses, just look at the banks with fixing rates, over charging, ppi and giving money to people who could not give it back. Did any go to prison?
    Its a big “donation”, its not a fine as that would be guilt. Don’t worry for Bernie, I’m sure most if not all will be written off in tax and it may not even be Bernie paying, he is needed to run f1, like him or not, but there are a lot of investors who rely on him.
    Us Brits should be proud of what he has done in keeping f1 teams and the running of the sport in the UK, like him or not or the choices he has made, he is an asset to the country and someone who hasn’t ran off to a tax free haven to work from. Thumbs up from me and I know anyone else in his situation would do the same.

  83. Richard D says:

    Whatever spin you put on the outcome of this case and Bernie’s guilt/ innocence, he doesn’t come out of it smelling of roses. He is well beyond retirement age so I think it is time that he stood down from his role in F1 and spend his remaining years enjoying the billions he has extracted from the sport.

  84. Gaz Boy says:

    The point is, CVC said that would fire Mr E if found guilty – and he hasn’t technically.
    So its business as usual then……………..

  85. Stephen Taylor says:

    BERNIE OUT!

  86. C63 says:

    There is no doubt, in my mind, that BE would have had discussions with CVC regarding the implications of a settlement with the Court. I assume it’s a done deal, as he wouldn’t have settled if it meant losing his grip on F1.

  87. C63 says:

    There is no doubt, in my mind, that BE would have had discussions with CVC regarding the implications of a settlement with the Court. I assume it’s a done deal, as he wouldn’t have settled if it meant losing his grip on F1.

  88. Richard D says:

    Innocent people don’t shell out £100m in fines!

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