Germany's richest woman blackmailed by gigolo
The 43-year-old mother of three was targeted by her lover, a Swiss gigolo identified as Helg Sgarbi.
Munich -- Germany's richest woman, Susanne Klatten, has been blackmailed for millions of dollars by a man who threatened to release pictures of them meeting secretly, her spokesman said.
The 43-year-old mother of three was targeted by her lover, a Swiss gigolo identified as Helg Sgarbi, according to reports, which appeared in the German press on Sunday.
The couple began an affair in 2006, meeting at luxury hotels in Monte Carlo, Munich and other cities, according to the reports. A year later Sgarbi began demanding money.
Klatten, heiress to a fortune worth an estimated 7.8 billion euros, initially paid Sgarbi 7.5 million euros (9.7 million dollars), money he said was needed to pay a Mafia protection racket.
When Sgarbi demanded a much larger amount and threatened to release pictures and videos of their trysts, she went to Munich prosecutors in January, claiming she was the victim of fraud and blackmail.
"Mrs. Klatten made that decision because she knew that her relationship with Mr. S. had an exclusively criminal background," her spokesman said. "From the beginning the goal was to betray and blackmail her."
The secret films of their sex encounters were apparently taken by Sgarbi's accomplice, Italian resident Ernano Barretta, media reports said.
The two men was arrested in the summer after a joint Italian-German police operation that intercepted telephone calls to Barretta's home near Pescara on Italy's Adriatic Coast.
Prosecutors in Munich confirmed that an investigation into the case was under way, but declined to give details.
Klatten is a major shareholder in luxury carmaker BMW. She also owns a 50 percent stake of chemical firm Altana. Her fortune comes from her late father, Herbert Quandt, who cooperated with Hitler during World War II.