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5 August 2015

A German court has agreed to end the bribery trial of Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone in exchange for a $100m (£60m) payment.  

German prosecutors accepted the offer from the 83-year-old billionaire who went on trial in April, accused of paying a German banker 33m euros (£26m; $44m) to ensure a company he favoured could buy a stake in F1.

He now walks free and can continue running the sport, having been found neither guilty nor innocent.

If found guilty, he could have faced a 10-year jail term and the end of his decades-long dominance of motor racing.

The BayernLB banker, Gerhard Gribkowsky, was allegedly paid by Mr Ecclestone to ensure the F1 stake was bought by a company that he favoured, was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison in 2012 for accepting bribes.

Prosecutors said Mr Ecclestone's advanced age and other mitigating circumstances gave grounds to accept the $100m offer.

The Judge ruled $99m sh go to the state and $1m be donated to a children's hospital.

'Really insolent'

Under German law defendants can in certain circumstances "buy" termination of a trial.

However a lawyer said it was unusual for the clause to be invoked in mid-trial.

Former Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, of the Liberal FDP party, criticised use of the loophole in the Ecclestone case, saying it was "not just bad taste - it's really insolent".

She said it allowed rich people to go free, whereas the less well-heeled could face prison.

Via BBC News