Billionaire Susanne Klatten met Helg Sgarbi for the first time in a luxury hotel in Austria.Sgarbi, a Swiss former investment banker, told her he was a ‘special adviser for the Swiss government,’ and Klatten fell in love with him soon after.
But everything was a lie, Klatten testified in a hearing yesterday, the Daily Mail reports.
Sgarbi, who was dubbed “the Swiss gigolo” in the German press, was handed a six year jail sentence in 2009 for defrauding married Klatten of millions and “attempting to blackmail her for tens of millions more,” according to the AP.
He had threatened to publish secretly recorded videotapes of the two together unless she paid up, and also claimed he had left a girl paraplegic after a car crash and needed the money for her treatment.
Klatten is one of the richest women in the world; she owns a 46% stake in BMW with her brother and mother.
In an Italian court yesterday, where the man who masterminded the plot — a “mystical faith healer” called Ernani Barretta — is on trial, Klatten described for the first time how she was duped.
According to the Daily Mail,
She said: ‘The first time he asked for money I gave him seven million Euro – it wasn’t because I was being blackmailed, it was an act of love towards him. He told me he had caused a serious car accident and that the Mafia were after him and he needed the money because he had to pay them off. He said they would kill him unless he gave them the money.’
Ms Klatten then told the court how after she had paid him, Sgarbi kept asking for money and that eventually she went to the police after he demanded £40 million or he would make public their affair.
She said: ‘He asked me to meet him at the Holiday Inn in Munich. When I went there he showed me two photographs, in one of them I was naked and so was he. I could tell they were from a video and I was scared. There was a letter which said he would tell all to the press and my family. He wanted money and I had already given him seven million Euro.
The indictment against Sgarbi described how “he had thoroughly researched” Klatten prior to making advances on her at the luxury spa, and “was simultaneously playing along two wives of industrialists staying at the mountain resort,” the Times said.