Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone paid $100 million in August to end his trial in Germany on criminal bribery charges. Some of the money went to save two financially strapped hospice centers that support terminally ill children and their families.
Judge Peter Noll allocated $1 million from Eccelestone’s payment to the hospice foundation. The rest of the money went to the Bavarian state.
The German Children’s Hospice Foundation was on the verge of shutting down the two centers, NBC Sports said. The centers are among 20 the foundation runs.
Ecclestone was accused of bribing a German banker over the sale of a controlling interest in the company that runs Formula One racing. He has always denied any wrongdoing.
Under German law, prosecutors and courts can agree to close proceedings in exchange for a payment, community service, reparations or other conditions, “if the degree of guilt does not present an obstacle.”
“We were really surprised by this huge amount, which is as far as I know the highest single amount given to one charity in Germany in criminal law history,” Daniel Fischer, chairman of the charity’s board of trustees, told the Australian.
“The foundation, like hundreds of other charities, is registered with about 40 courts across Germany to receive a share of criminal fines. The choice of beneficiary is down to the judge,” the Australian said.
The hospice centers using Ecclestone’s money are in Hanau (near Frankfurt) and Bad Salzungen.
Judge Noll didn’t give a reason for allocating money to the foundation.
“Families can stay there overnight, or the sick children and their siblings can spend the day there themselves,” NBC Sports said.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.