While three felons languish in prison, having been jailed at Southwark crown court on Monday for their roles in bribing state officials in Indonesia and Iraq, Formula 1 racing boss,Bernie Ecclestone was arranging to pay a $100 million settlement, as is his right under German law, to escape the judicial process and walk free from court. Mr. Ecclestone, of course, denies any wrongdoing in his dealings and asserted that he was innocent of all charges.
If there is one cause that should be taken up by all MEPs it is this: allowing people to escape any judicial process by payment, especially when the charges are so serious, defeats the ends of the law and amounts to little more than state bribery at best. This travesty of justice means that Ecclestone is a free man and cannot be brought back to the court for the same matter and can continue running F1. It also means Mr Ecclestone is found neither guilty nor innocent. Had he been found guilty he would likely have received a 10-year jail term and his stranglehold over motor racing would have ended.
The use of this arrangement in such a serious case was publicly condemned by Germany’s former justice minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, who said that it was “not just bad taste – it’s really insolent”. She argued that it gave the rich a trapdoor by which to escape criminal justice and any resulting sentence, whereas those with thinner wallets would likely face prison.
It’s time that the EU parliament put an end to this loophole for the filthy rich!