Swiss to go on trial for blackmailing richest woman
4 November 2008
MUNICH – A Swiss 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 carmaker BMW and chemicals company Altana, complained to police earlier this year. The Swiss man, named by media as Helg Sgarbi, 43, was arrested in January.
The case only 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 an accomplice, 63, was in custody in Italy awaiting trial, but declined comment on reports in the German media that three other rich German women 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 the charges.
"We won’t discuss that," said Winkler.
Joerg Appelhans, spokesman for Klatten, said the blackmail began in autumn 2007, with the accused obtaining a credit of millions of euros from her. 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 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."
[dpa / Expatica]