Swiss gigolo confesses to blackmailing German car heiress

March 9th, 2009 - 5:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Munich, March 9 (DPA) The man accused of blackmailing Germany’s reputedly richest woman confessed at the start of the trial Monday. He is accused of seducing four women and extorting millions of euros from them.
The lawyer of Helg Sgarbi, 44, read out a statement in court in which he admitted to the charges. This means the women will not have to testify against him in court.

Sgarbi, a Swiss national, is accused of trying to extort 14 million euros ($17.5 million) from BMW car heiress Susanne Klatten after he threatened to publicise secret video recordings of them having sex.

Three other women had allegedly fallen prey to him and voluntarily parted with millions of dollars.

“I would like to give the following statement,” Sgarbi told the court, “I regret the events deeply and apologise here in this trial and in all publicity to the aggrieved women.”

The case was initiated when Klatten, a publicity-shy mother-of-three, went to the police and exposed Sgarbi, who had tricked her into parting with 7 million euros.

Klatten, 46, is reputedly Germany’s richest woman, with a large stake in BMW as well as in a pharmaceuticals company.

Sgarbi, who has been in custody since his arrest in Vomp, Austria last year, faces four counts of serious fraud and two charges of attempted blackmail.

Media claim Sgarbi was a serial seducer who approached his wealthy victims at luxury hotels and duped them into thinking he loved them.

He persuaded them to give him millions of euros by inventing stories about needing money to pay compensation for a child he injured in a car accident.

The trial is expected to last until early April. German law punishes serious fraud with up to 10 years’ prison and blackmail with up to 15 years.

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