Ecclestone 'a bit of an idiot' for settling
Bernie Ecclestone feels the $100 million (£59 million) payment he made to end his bribery trial in Munich could have been avoided as the judge had "more or less said" he was acquitted.
Prosecutors accepted the payment on Tuesday morning, which under German law can settle some criminal cases if all parties, including the judge, agree. Ecclestone is happy to have the trial behind him but he admits the way it concluded is tinged with regret due to the strength of his defence.
"In the end what has happened is good and bad - the good is the judge more or less said I was acquitted, and [the prosecution] really didn't have a case," Ecclestone told the Press Association. "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 content, it's all fine. This now allows me to do what I do best, which is running F1."
Of the payment made, $99 million will go straight to the German state, with the remaining money going to a charity for terminally-ill children. Ecclestone says he is happy he can turn all of his attention back to running F1.
"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."
Ecclestone had been on trial since April charged with bribery and incitement to breach of trust. At the centre of the trial was a $44 million payment made by Ecclestone to German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, which prosecutors claimed was made to ensure Formula One was sold to Ecclestone's preferred buyer in 2006.
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