A German court has halted a bribery trial against Bernie Ecclestone in exchange for his paying a $100 million fee. But, as Joel Flynn reports, not everyone likes the deal.
For just about everyone else, 100 million dollars is more than a lifetime's amount of money. But for Bernie Ecclestone it's much more likely to be pocket money. A German court has told him to pay that sum as a fine. That's in exchange for halting a bribery trial against the Formula One tycoon. Andrea Titz is a court spokeswoman. SOUNDBITE Court Spokesperson Andrea Titz, saying (German): "There were talks between the prosecution and the defence about whether the trial could be ended. It seems those talks led to a decision, and the court has been informed of that decision." Ecclestone's lawyers applauded the settlement after the court heard more than 100 hours of testimony. The former used-car salesman turned motor-racing mogul was accused of paying 44 million dollars in bribes to a banker. That was allegedly to help the sale of a major stake in the motor sport business eight years ago. The decision preserves Ecclestone's innocence, and he has always denied the charges. But now some are angry the matter wasn't concluded in court. Robin Hodess is from Transparency International. SOUNDBITE: Transparency International, Robin Hodess, saying (English): "We need the law itself as a disincentive to bribery and corruption, And such settlements are a worrying trend, because we could see that more and more companies and individuals look for this way out." In German law it is possible to halt a trial under such circumstances. If he had been found guilty, the British billionaire could have faced up to 10 years in jail. But the state prosecutor said it was becoming difficult to prove the charges. For Ecclestone, this is a victory that might be difficult to beat.