Munich’s state court on Tuesday dropped the case after the 83-year-old Briton’s lawyers and prosecutor reached an agreement during a mediation process, in which the Formula One chief accepted paying the cash to the state and charities. Germany’s former Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger told public radio Deutschlandfunk: "This is impudence. "The goal of judicial procedures is not to raise money for really good purposes, that is not the intent and purpose of justice." “After this rule, some may start to think that those who own a lot of money can buy themselves out of penalty, and others who cannot afford it have to serve a three or four year prison sentence,” she said. State prosecutor Christian Weiss defended the decision, saying that, due to the advanced age of Ecclestone, mitigating factors and the long trial expected in the case, prosecutors had agreed on the mediation. Weiss rejected criticism by politicians and media, claiming that it was a common implementation under the “Paragraf 153a” of the German Code of Criminal Procedure, with thousands of similar examples having been agreed in courts in such a manner.
The state prosecutor’s office opened a criminal case in April against Bernie Ecclestone over an alleged payment of a $44 million bribe to a senior bank executive to facilitate the sale of F1's commercial rights. Ecclestone said he was not guilty. Following Tuesday’s decision, Ecclestone has one week to make the payment of $99 million to the state treasury and $1 million to a charity.
The settlement brings no conviction against him and ensures that he can continue to act as the Formula One chief.
The proceedings would finally end once Ecclestone makes the payment.
He could have been sentenced to up to 10 years in prison if he had been convicted on charges of bribery.