LONDON (AFP) - Bernie Ecclestone says he is relieved to be back running Formula One but feels “a bit of an idiot” after settling his bribery trial in Germany on Tuesday.
The 83-year-old F1 supremo was back at his desk in London hours after walking out of the court in Munich, his case brought to a premature end after the British billionaire arranged to make a US$100 million (S$125 million) payment.
In an interview with Britain’s Press Association he said: “The bottom line is it’s been three-and-a-half years of aggravation, travelling, meeting lawyers, and God knows what else, so it is good it is out of the way.
“This trial has been going on for two days a week and it was going to go on until October.
“When you’re trying to run businesses it’s not easy trying to resolve things when you’re dealing with lawyers.”
He continued: “In the end what has happened today is good and bad - the good is the judge more or less said I was acquitted, and they (the prosecution) really didn’t have a case.
“So I was a bit of an idiot to do what I did to settle because it wasn’t with the judge, it was with the prosecutors.
“Anyway, it’s done and finished, so it’s all right. I’m contented, it’s all fine. This now allows me to do what I do best, which is running F1. Another three months out would have been bad. I’ve been working weekends to catch up with what I’ve been missing during the week. I’ve not really noticed, but it’s probably taken its toll a little bit.”
Ecclestone went on trial in April on charges of paying a US$44-million bribe to a Bavarian state bank executive for help in maintaining his four-decade grip on F1.
A settlement is allowed in German criminal cases if the prosecution, the aggrieved parties and the court agree.
News of the agreement drew angry condemnation of the “buy-out” legal proviso in Germany.