F1: Bernie’s cash payment to end bribery trial helps save German child care centers

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Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone handed over a sum of $100 million to end his bribery trial this past summer in Germany.

Most of that has ended up in the coffers of the Bavarian state. But some of Ecclestone’s money has gone to preventing the closure of two German child care centers.

According to David Charter of The Times (London), the German Children’s Hospice Foundation was on the verge of shutting down the two centers, which are part of a group of 20 that provide support to families of terminally ill children.

But the foundation instead will keep the two centers going thanks to a $1 million award allocated by the trial’s lead judge, Peter Noll.

The centers are located in Hanau (near Frankfurt) and the town of Bad Salzungen in the central part of the country. Families can stay there overnight, or the sick children and their siblings can spend the day there themselves.

According to Daniel Fischer, the chairman of the foundation’s board of trustees, the money has already been used in several ways such as funding seminars for parents of terminally ill kids and German resort holidays for dozens of families in 2015.

Additionally, the money has gone toward installing an emergency coordinator that travels the country to help families in crisis and the publishing of a book on proper practices for child hospice work. Per Fischer, there had been no such publication in the German language.

As for why Fischer’s foundation was chosen, Charter notes that former banker Gerhard Gribkowsky – who is currently in jail for taking a sum of $44 million from Ecclestone – had channeled the money via off-shore accounts to a foundation known as “Sunshine.”

“Sunshine” was supposedly meant to help support and care for cancer-stricken kids, but investigators found it had only made one payment. Fischer himself wonders if that was a reason behind the judge’s decision to allocate the money to his group.

“We can only take a guess, but we think the judge decided that there was so much misuse done by Gribkowsky with his apparently fake foundation that he wanted to choose a real foundation,” Fischer said to The Times.