MUNICH, Germany, (Reuters) – A former Swiss investment banker was jailed for six years yesterday for trying to blackmail Germany’s wealthiest woman, heiress to the BMW car empire, with secret video of their lovemaking.
Helg Sgarbi admitted at the start of his trial that he had seduced heiress Susanne Klatten and three other wealthy women, persuading them to pay him almost 10 million euros ($12.64 million) under various false pretexts.
“I regret what I did,” Sgarbi, 44, told the Munich court, with little emotion. “I apologise to the women involved.”
Klatten, a member of the Quandt family — the leading shareholders in carmaker BMW — went public last year with the story of how her lover secretly shot intimate footage and later demanded tens of million of euros not to reveal it.
Sgarbi’s admission spares Klatten, who is rarely seen in public, a court appearance.
The 46-year-old married mother-of-three had first met the Swiss army lieutenant at a health centre, state prosecutors told a crowded court.
Posing as a special envoy for war zones, Sgarbi won over Klatten by sending her text messages and phoning her with declarations of his love.
She later handed him a cardboard box containing 7 million euros in 500 euro notes, believing he had paralysed a child in a traffic accident in America and needed the money to pay compensation to avoid being jailed.
Klatten ended the relationship after the married father demanded more money. He responded by threatening to send photos and tapes of their hotel-room rendezvous to colleagues, family and the press unless she handed over 49 million euros.