Swiss gigolo who duped BMW heiress gets six years in jail (Lead)

March 9th, 2009 - 10:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Munich, March 9 (DPA) A Swiss man accused of seducing Germany’s reportedly richest woman and extorting millions of euros from her was sentenced Monday to a six-year prison sentence.
Four wealthy women, including BMW car heiress Susanne Klatten, had accused the smooth-talking gigolo of using a mixture of charm and blackmail to obtain more than 9 million euros ($11 million) from them.

The case was initiated when Klatten, a publicity-shy mother of three, went to the police and exposed Sgarbi, after he had tried to extort 14 million euros ($17.5 million) by threatening to publicize secret video recordings of them having sex.

He had already tricked her into parting with 7 million euros.

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

Helg Sgarbi, 44, confessed at the start of the trial Monday to the charges against him.

“I regret the events deeply and apologize here in this trial and in all publicity to the aggrieved women,” Sgarbi told the court Monday morning.

The prosecution argued that Sgarbi’s confession was merely a ruse to reduce his sentence. They had asked for a nine-year prison term.

It remained unclear what had become of the money Sgarbi received, or whether other associates were involved. In addition, he gave no information on the whereabouts of the video recordings used to blackmail the women.

The defence argued on the other hand that the women had willingly parted with their money, and had asked for a sentence of no more than five years’ jail.

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