August 7, 2014

Bernie Ecclestone pays to end bribery trial

The 83-year-old, who was facing bribery charges, walked free from court after coming to the agreement earlier this week.

Mr Ecclestone, who had denied any wrongdoing, was making use of a little-known provision in German law, which allows a case to be dropped if the defendant offers to make a payment.

It is believed that the amount received from Mr Ecclestone, one of the world’s richest men, is the largest ever accepted by the courts.

The deal has been criticised by some campaign groups, who are worried that defendants are able to use their wealth to stop a prosecution.

However, Mr Ecclestone’s age and weaknesses in the prosecution’s evidence gave grounds to accept the sum.

Spokeswoman Andrea Titz said: "There was no conclusion on guilt or innocence of the defendant. He is leaving this courtroom a free man."

Mr Ecclestone had gone on trial in April, accused of paying a banker a £26 million kick-back. If he had been found guilty, he would have faced a lengthy jail sentence.

Even though Mr Ecclestone was able to walk free, one should not take this case as evidence that authorities take a lenient approach to bribery and corruption allegations. This case is very much based on specific circumstances. In fact many companies and businesses are being investigated in relation to bribery and corruption allegations.

For further questions please feel free to contact Claus Andersen, Partner in Corporate and Commercial or John North, Head of Corporate and Commercial on 020 7583 2222.

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