Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone will make a $100 million payment to end the bribery trial.
Bernie Ecclestone’s offer was based on an existing provision in German law.
Earlier on Tuesday German prosecutors accepted the offer from the 83-year-old billionaire who dominates motor racing.
Bernie Ecclestone went on trial in April, accused of paying a German banker 33 million euros ($44 million) to ensure that a company he favored could buy a stake in F1.
He denies wrongdoing.
The ruling means he walks free from the district court in Munich and can continue running the sport. It also means Bernie Ecclestone is found neither guilty nor innocent.
His personal wealth is put at $4.2 billion by Forbes.
If found guilty, Bernie Ecclestone could have faced a 10-year jail term and the end of his decades-long dominance of motor racing.
Bernie Ecclestone will make a $100 million payment to end the bribery trial (photo Reuters)
A BayernLB banker, Gerhard Gribkowsky, was allegedly paid by Bernie Ecclestone to ensure the F1 stake was bought by a company that he favored, so that he would remain in charge of the sport.
Gerhard Gribkowsky was sentenced to 8 and half years in prison in 2012 for accepting bribes.
Bernie Ecclestone says the payment was given to Gerhard Gribkowsky after the banker threatened to make false claims about the F1 boss’s tax status.
Prosecutors said Bernie Ecclestone’s advanced age and other mitigating circumstances gave grounds to accept the $100 million offer.
Bernie Ecclestone has attended most of the hearings in person and arrived at the courthouse on Tuesday in a limousine, looking relaxed and accompanied by his wife, Fabiana Flosi.
Asked by Judge Peter Noll if he could raise the $100 million, Bernie Ecclestone replied “yes”. When asked if the payment could be made within a week, his defense lawyer, Sven Thomas, said: “That’s do-able.”
Judge Peter Noll ruled that $99 million would go to the Bavarian state coffers while $1 million would be donated to a children’s hospital. The sum is believed to be a record for such a payment.
Court spokesperson Andrea Titz said Bernie Ecclestone: “The court did not consider a conviction overwhelmingly likely from the present point of view.
“With this type of ending… there is no ruling on guilt or innocence of the defendant.”
Under German law defendants can in certain circumstances “buy” termination of a trial.
The legal proviso exists in order to ease the burden on the courts and to deal with cases where reaching a judgment could prove difficult.
However, a lawyer quoted by the Spiegelonline website, Franz Bielefeld, said it was unusual for the clause to be invoked in mid-trial – more often it is done before a trial starts.
Bernie Ecclestone has appeared in court at the start of a trial on bribery charges in Munich, Germany.
The Formula 1 boss is accused of giving a $45 million (33 million euros) bribe to a German banker to secure the sale of a stake in the F1 business to a company he favored.
Bernie Ecclestone admits paying Gerhard Gribkowsky, who is serving a jail sentence for receiving the payment, but has denied any wrongdoing.
He continues to run the F1 business on a day-to-day basis despite the charges.
To alleviate his workload, however, Bernie Ecclestone has stood down from a number of F1-related positions until the case concludes.
Bernie Ecclestone is accused of giving a $45 million bribe to a German banker to secure the sale of a stake in the F1 business to a company he favored
Correspondents say that he appeared relaxed as he consulted with his lawyers on Thursday ahead of the proceedings.
Asked by a journalist outside the court whether he was confident of victory, he replied: “I’m confident the sun is shining.”
German prosecutors allege that he bribed Gerhard Gribkowsky, who was on the board of Bayern Landesbank, to ensure that F1 was sold to a private equity group of Bernie Ecclestone’s choice.
The allegation is that by securing the sale of the stake to a company Bernie Ecclestone favored, he would remain in charge of Formula 1 and its commercial rights, broadcast payments and sponsorship deals.
The payments were made between July 2006 and December 2007.
Bernie Ecclestone, 83, admits paying Gerhard Gribkowsky, but says he was effectively the victim of blackmail. He has said the banker had been threatening to reveal false details of his tax affairs.
If convicted, Bernie Ecclestone – one of Britain’s richest men who transformed Formula 1 into a lucrative sport watched by 450 million TV viewers globally – could face up to 10 years in jail.
Gerhard Gribkowsky has been found guilty of corruption, tax evasion and breach of trust and is serving an eight and a half year prison sentence.
Bernie Ecclestone testified during Gerhard Gribkowsky’s trial in 2011, and the former German banker is expected to be the main witness during the F1 chief’s trial, which is scheduled to last until September.
In February, Bernie Ecclestone won a civil case in London’s High Court brought by a German media company, which claimed it lost out financially when the share of F1 belonging to German bank Bayern Landesbank was sold in 2006 to private equity group CVC.
While the judge rejected a damages claim from Constantin Medien against the F1 boss, Bernie Ecclestone was ordered to pay $4 million in legal fees.