Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Ecclestone issues for procurement bribery

"Broadly, the [Uk's Bribery] Act defines bribery as giving or receiving a financial or other advantage in connection with the "improper performance" of a position of trust, or a function that is expected to be performed impartially or in good faith."

Given that definition it seems somewhat ironic that the German courts have accepted a payment of $100m to end the Bernie Ecclestone bribery trail!  That means no decision was reached on the allegations and Ecclestone is considered neither guilty nor innocent.  It is the ultimate 'Get out of jail' card with a potential ten years imprisonment wiped off the slate. Of course, in the eyes of UK law he is obviously innocent as not proven guilty.

While $100m seems like a gigantic amount of money, when that is set against Eccleston's estimated wealth of  $4.2bn, it is a mere drop in the ocean, but a gross waste of money if he would have been proved innocent. 

What interests me though is whether this creates a precedent for future bribery trials? Would a proportionate amount be acceptable to 'close' the case in a procurement bribery case? Would it be worth corrupt firms setting aside such monies rather than going through the courts and being 'blacklisted' from future contracts? Would the precedent apply to individuals facing allegations of bribery? 


  1. None. Germany is s civil law system so precedent has very little effect on the outcomes of cases. Unfortunately though, until the particular code in question is clarified, people will continue to be able to essentially buy their way out of cases.

    I can see some sense in the authorities accepting the settlement. I think Joe Public would have very little interest in seeing an 83 year old man locked up for 10 years (on their dime) for an offence that, I suspect, they care very little about. At least this way Ecclestone gets hit where it hurts, the local coffers get filled and a charity gets a percentage of the settlement. Social justice if not judicial.

    I'd be more interested to see what the UK authorities do (if anything). Given the extra-territorial reach of the UK's Bribery act and the German case hinging on whether Ecclestone knowing the person he allegedly bribed was an "office holder" (rather than outright bribe yes/no) i think a case could be made for one of Ecclestone's companies to be brought up on failing to prevent an act of bribery.

    1. Thanks for the clarification Anon, don't forget I was referring to the precedent in Germany too as opposed to just UK. Nevertheless, I too will watch with interest whether the UK authorities turn a blind eye to this.