F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone seeks bribery case settlement

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone waits in the courtroom in Munich - 29 July 2014 Image copyright AP
Image caption The court case has been delayed several times by Bernie Ecclestone's bouts of ill health

Lawyers for Bernie Ecclestone say the Formula 1 boss is ready to pay a German bank 25 million euros ($34m; £20m) to settle a court case against him.

The 83-year-old went on trial in Munich in April, charged with bribery and incitement to breach of trust.

He is accused of paying a German banker 33 million euros to ensure a company he favoured could buy a stake in F1.

If found guilty, the F1 boss could face a 10-year jail term and the end of his decades-long dominance of motor racing.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The court said talks between Mr Ecclestone's defence team and the prosecutors are ongoing

On Tuesday, Mr Ecclestone's defence team called for proceedings to be stopped because of a lack of evidence and said the F1 chief was prepared to pay a settlement fee.

Sven Thomas, one of Mr Ecclestone's lawyers, was reported as saying that state prosecutors were open to the proposal but said they would have to review it in detail.

Talks ongoing

Under German law, prosecutors may withdraw charges during certain criminal trials if all parties agree to a settlement.

In a statement, the court said talks between prosecutors and the defence team "on a potential early end to the proceedings have not yet reached a conclusion".

It did not confirm details of Mr Ecclestone's settlement offer.

Gerhard Gribkowsky, the BayernLB banker Mr Ecclestone is alleged to have paid, was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison in 2012 for accepting bribes.

The prosecutors say Mr Ecclestone wanted to ensure the F1 stake was bought by a company that he favoured so he would remain in charge of the sport.

Mr Ecclestone says the payment was given to Gribkowsky after he threatened to make false claims about the F1 boss's tax status.

Mr Ecclestone has run the sport for almost 40 years, turning it into a huge global commercial success.

He is the long-time commercial rights holder of F1, but sold off a majority of the ownership in the 1990s.

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