Ecclestone offers to settle

Bernie Ecclestone was told his future as head of F1 hinged on the trial's results (AP)

Bernie Ecclestone was told his future as head of F1 hinged on the trial's results (AP)

First published in National Sport News © by

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone will discover later on Tuesday whether a settlement offer to end his bribery trial has been accepted.

The 83-year-old has proposed a staggering sum of 100 million dollars (£60million) to bring an end to a case that commenced in April in a district court in Munich.

That figure has been accepted by the state prosecutors, and is now being considered by the presiding judge Peter Noll.

Speaking to Press Association Sport, Ecclestone said: "We don't know anything yet.

"The judge is going to come out at one o'clock. They haven't made up their mind what they want to do, to be honest with you.

"It's going to take them a few hours to look at this and decide what they want to do, so we wait and see."

Over the past few months Ecclestone has been defending himself against charges of bribery of a German banker, and incitement to breach of trust.

In 2006, German regional bank BayernLB sold their 47.2 per cent stake in F1 to private equity firm, and the current majority shareholders, CVC Capital Partners.

Prosecutors claim Ecclestone paid Gerhard Gribkowsky, formerly the chief risk officer of BayernLB, a bribe of 44million US dollars (£26million) to steer the sale to CVC.

Ecclestone has long maintained his innocence, claiming he was "shaken down" by Gribkowsky who was threatening to inform HM Revenue & Customs he controlled an offshore family trust known as Bambino Holdings.

Although Ecclestone has continually insisted the trust is not in his name, if an investigation had uncovered to the contrary he would have been liable for a tax bill of around £2billion.

With the trial running for just over three months, last Tuesday it was halted after Ecclestone offered to pay a sum of money, believed at that stage to be 25million euros (£20million) in return for the charges being dropped.

Under Bavarian state law, a trial of the nature of Ecclestone's can be concluded if the accused makes a payment to a non-profit making organisation, or the treasury.

Such an offer, however, does not imply any guilt on behalf of the accused.

Ecclestone's lawyers made the offer believing the state defence team's case to be, in their words, "highly questionable", and with the trial proving to be "extremely burdensome" on their client.

Over the past few days negotiations have swayed back and forth, and understood to have resulted in the 100million euro offer.

Ecclestone has continued to run F1 either side of attending court for two days a week, which would have concluded in October had it run its full course.

His future as head of F1 hinged on the outcome of the trial as he had previously been warned a guilty verdict, regardless of whether he avoided a prison sentence, would have resulted in his dismissal as chief executive.

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