President and CEO of Formula 1 Management, Bernie Ecclestone, has never been one to shy away from controversy. So back in 2012 when the Formula 1 top dog was accused of bribing former BayernL
President and CEO of Formula 1 Management, Bernie Ecclestone, has never been one to shy away from controversy. So back in 2012 when the Formula 1 top dog was accused of bribing former BayernLB Banker, Gerhard Gribkowsky in an attempt to control the ownership of Formula 1, his claim to innocence was a surprise to many.
Ecclestone has spent months in court, denying the allegations that he’d made the corrupt £26m agreement 10 years ago, to influence the sale of Formula 1. But with the Banker in question found guilty of accepting bribes, it was almost certain Ecclestone would spend 10 years in prison for the allegations.
Logically speaking for a bribe to be taken, one must be offered. This fact alone made it likely that Ecclestone would be held accountable for bribing Gribkowsky. However this is not how the German court viewed his actions.
Ecclestone claimed to be a victim of blackmail, and that the banker threatened to create a story which would land him in tax issues if he didn’t pay up. He explained that rather than suffer at the hand of an untrue story, it was “easier” for him to pay Gribkowsky the £26 million. Gribkowsky’s allegations of Ecclestone’s bribery were described as “incorrect, misleading and incoherent.”
He also claimed he was unaware of the Banker’s position in the company. Though the prosecution didn’t believe Ecclestone’s version of events, they came to the conclusion that proving that he was guilty would cost time and effort, and may even fall through.
After the trial began back in April it looked like it was finally over on August 5th, when offered a £60m ($100m) settlement to end the trial.
Several dub this conclusion as ironic, given that he paid his way out of what he described as a “three and a half years of aggravation” bribery case. However Bavarian state law allows defendants to make a payment, with no conjecture of innocence or guilt, to settle their case.
Ecclestone stated that he feels like “a bit of an idiot” for settling the matter with the German court earlier this week, as he feels the prosecution didn’t have enough evidence to convict him.
“The judge more or less said I was acquitted,” Ecclestone told the BBC. “So I was a bit of an idiot to do what I did to settle [the case].”
“Anyway, it’s done and finished, so it’s all right. This now allows me to do what I do best, which is running F1, I’ve just got to get on with work,” he said after leaving court a free man.
“I’ve got things I need to catch up with so I’m cracking on.”
But his freedom was short-lived.
The Case Continues
On Friday, it was revealed by a spokesperson for the bank, that Ecclestone’s settlement offer of $33m made to BayernLB was rejected. The bank claims that Ecclestone highly undervalued Formula 1 when it was sold in 2006.
Where the case goes from here is uncertain. This issue could be far from over and affect Ecclestone’s role within Formula 1.
But most likely, Ecclestone will be forced to pay a higher amount to settle the case and that will be the end of it. However neither party has commented on the next steps as of yet.
What do you think? Is it fair that Ecclestone is able to pay his way out of this case? Or should the trial continue regardless of the lack of evidence? Have your say in the comments section below.