'Swiss gigolo' to stand trial

22nd January 2009, Comments 0 comments

Helg Sgarbi will stand trial in March for blackmailing his ex-lover, a BMW heiress.

MUNICH - The ex-lover of Germany's richest woman, BMW heiress Susanne Klatten, will stand trial in March accused of blackmailing her with videos of their hotel encounters, a court said Wednesday.

Helg Sgarbi, a 43-year-old dubbed the "Swiss gigolo", was charged in December with attempted blackmail, fraud and attempted fraud in connection with other cases involving other rich women who fell for his charms.

The trial starts on 9 March and if convicted, Sgarbi may serve up to 10 years in prison.

According to media reports, Sgarbi first met the married mother-of-three in July 2007. They then conducted an affair lasting several weeks, meeting in inexpensive hotel rooms in BMW's home city of Munich in southern Germany.

Sgarbi then persuaded the 46-year-old to give him EUR 7.5 million (USD 9.7 million, CHF 11.3 million) after claiming the Mafia were threatening him for disabling the child of a leading gangster in a car crash, media reports said.

The affair ended soon afterwards, but Sgarbi's accomplice filmed their encounters from the next hotel room at the Munich Holiday Inn.

When he tried to blackmail Klatten, who according to Forbes has a personal fortune of over USD 13 billion, she informed the police and Sgarbi and his accomplice were arrested in Austria in January 2009 and returned to Germany.

Klatten wanted to keep the affair secret but details were revealed to the Italian media.

Klatten is the daughter of Herbert Quandt, the German industrialist who saved BMW from collapse in 1957 and built the Bavarian automaker into a world auto power. He died in 1982.

[AFP / Expatica]


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