'Swiss gigolo' jailed for six years

Conman found guilty of fraud and attempted blackmail of Germany's richest woman.

    Susanne Klatten was listed by Forbes magazine in 2008 as the 68th richest person in the world [AFP]

    "I regret what I did," he told the court. "I apologise to the women involved."

    Demands

    Sgarbi, who targeted rich, lonely women, told his lovers he was a special Swiss envoy in crisis zones.

    He began an affair with Klatten, who has a personal fortune of around $9.6bn, after meeting her at an exclusive spa near Innsbruck, Austria, in July 2007.

    After convincing her to give him money for a girl he said had been left paralysed in a car accident he had caused, he began to demand that the married mother-of-three leave her family and invest $367m in a trust for them to begin a new life together.

    When she refused, he threatened to release secret videos of an intimate encounter in a hotel room, and demanded another $62m not to tell her family, later dropping the amount to $17.7m.

    But Klatten reported him to the police in January 2008, and he was arrested shortly afterwards.

    Other victims

    Sgarbi was also convicted of taking $3m from three other women, whose names were not released, in similar scams.

    Thomas Steinkraus-Koch, prosecutor in the case, praised Klatten for coming forward about Sgarbi's attempted blackmail.

    "The only victim who came to us and gave a witness statement is Mrs Klatten," he said. "We had to find the others, with great difficulty".

    Klatten, the daughter of the late BMW magnate Herbert Quandt, holds a 12.5 per cent stake in the car maker.

    She also owns a 88.3 per cent share of chemical company Altana.

    Last year, Forbes magazine listed her as the 68th richest person in the world.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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