Judge Peter Noll told the court the suspicion of bribery against Ecclestone could not, by and large, be backed up in a trial. He gave Ecclestone one week to pay $100 million – $99 million to the state and $1 million to a children’s charity.
“The trial is temporarily suspended until you’ve honoured your commitments and then it’ll be permanently discontinued,” Noll said. “If you don’t honour your commitments, we’ll continue the trial. I assume we’ll only ever see each other again on TV.”
Ecclestone, 83, replied in English: “Thank you very much. I will honour my commitment.”
“The charges could not, in important areas, be substantiated,” Judge Noll said. He added that any other charges against Ecclestone that remained were not so serious as to warrant the continuation of the trial.
Ecclestone’s lawyers applauded the settlement after the court heard more than 100 hours of testimony. “A conviction of Mr. Ecclestone could not be expected with any likelihood,” his lawyers said in a joint statement.
They also dismissed the suggestion that Ecclestone had bought his way out of the trial.
“Through this abandonment, the presumption of innocence in favour of Mr. Ecclestone remains intact … The monetary compensation is geared to his income and financial situation.”
A spokeswoman for the Munich court, Andrea Titz, said a settlement did not mean there was an admission of guilt.
“With this type of ending … there is no ruling on guilt or innocence of the defendant,” she told reporters. “He is neither acquitted nor judged – rather this is a special type of ending a procedure which is in theory available to all types of cases.”