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Justice

BayernLB rejects Ecclestone offer to pay 25 million euros

The German bank suing Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has rejected his offer to pay millions more as part of his settlement in a bribery case. The law suit stems from the 2006 sale of rights to F1 racing.

BayernLB - the Bavarian bank suing Ecclestone for bribery - announced on Friday that it would not accept his offer to pay an additional 25 million euros ($33.5 million) to bring his bribery case to an end.

A spokesperson from BayernLB confirmed the news without providing further details. The Bavarian, partly state-owned bank had last year threatened to sue for up to $400 million.

On Tuesday, a Munich court ruled that Ecclestone must pay 74.5 million euros within a week to close the criminal case connected to the 2006 sale of Formula One's commercial rights.

Ecclestone could have faced up to 10 years imprisonment had he been convicted on charges of bribery and breach of trust in connection with the case.

The bribery case stems from the 83-year-old Briton's involvement with the 2006 sale of the rights to Formula One motor racing. He had been accused of paying 44 million dollars to Gerhard Gribkowsky, then an executive with Bayern LB. Ecclestone had admitted to giving funds to the bank executive - who was later handed an eight-and-a-half-year jail sentence - but had denied wrongdoing.

Prosecutors alleged that the payment was a bribe to facilitate the sale of F1's commercial rights to their current holders, CVC Capital Partners, at an undervalued price. The "ownership" of the rights, which strictly speaking is a century-long lease, had fallen into BayernLB's lap after the bankruptcy of German media mogul Leo Kirch in 2002.

Ecclestone, who is credited with building Formula One into a multi-billion-euro business after acquiring the television rights in the 1970s, stepped down from the board of the company, which operates it, after the Munich court ruled back in January that he would have to stand trial. However, even during the trial, which began in April, he had continued to run the business on a day-to-day basis.

kms/lw (Reuters, dpa)

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