Blackmailer trail to begin this year
No lengthy wait for the alleged blackmailer of Germany's richest woman.
Munich -- A man accused of blackmailing Germany's richest woman, Susanne Klatten, is likely to face trial before the year is out, a German prosecutor said in Munich Monday.
Klatten, 46, whose assets include key stakes in car maker BMW and chemicals company Altana, had complained of the blackmail to police earlier this year. The Swiss man, named by media as Helg Sgarbi, 43, was arrested in Jan.
The case became public at the end of last week.
Senior Munich prosecutor Anton Winkler said he expected the accused to go on trial for extortion "before Christmas."
Winkler said a 63 year old accomplice was in custody in Italy awaiting trial, but declined to comment on reports of three other wealthy German women who had been seduced by the blackmailer and forced to pay up.
He also declined to say if the accused, who was extradited from Austria in March, admitted to the charges.
"We won't discuss that," said Winkler.
Joerg Appelhans, spokesman for Klatten, said the blackmail began in autumn last year, with the accused obtaining millions of euros on credit from Klatten. Media reports said he concocted a story that he needed the money because he was being hunted by the Mafia.
Klatten, the daughter of the late Herbert Quandt who had invested most of his fortune in BMW, is married with three children. The spokesman said, "The family is fully supporting her and giving her strength."