Monday, March 9, 2009

Pay for play

This just frankly amazes me.

But then a semi-recent case concerning Ted and Mary Roberts in San Antonio was similar in some respects, at least pertaining to threats of blackmail over sexual liasons.

With the Roberts case it was the threats of lawsuits.

BTW go see the movie 'Burn after Reading' its a blackmailing hoot.

Swiss gigolo admits blackmail

Swiss con man Helg Sgarbi has admitted sleeping with and blackmailing a succession of rich women out of millions of pounds including BMW heiress Susanne Klatten.

The 44-year-old wined and dined a string of rich wives and widows, including Germany's wealthiest woman Mrs Klatten, winning their confidence and then asking for money.

If they refused, he threatened to blackmail them with secretly filmed footage of their encounters in hotel rooms around Europe.

His lawyer told a court in Munich that the long list of charges against his client "are, at their core, true."

Before the hearing began, a spokesman for the Munich prosecutors office said that Sgarbi faced a prison sentence of several years but that he could expect some leniency if he were to plead guilty.

"If he makes a confession, if he spares his victims from having to appear here in public, he will get a corresponding reduction ... in his sentence," Anton Winkler said.

Sgarbi's most high profile victim was BMW heiress Mrs Klatten, a married mother of three who he seduced and swindled out of £6.2 million.

His guilty plea may spare her the embarrassment of having to give evidence at the much-anticipated trial, which promised to become a sensation in Germany.

Sgarbi, who was nicknamed 'James Bond' by some of his conquests for his good looks and smooth-talking charm, is also accused of conning three other women out of £2.2 million.

Sgarbi, who told his wealthy conquests he was a "special Swiss representative in crisis zones" according to the charges against him, now faces the prospect of up to 10 years in prison.

Mrs Klatten is the daughter of BMW magnate Herbert Quandt and holds a 46-per cent stake in the company in conjunction with her mother and brother. She also owns a 88.3-per cent share of chemical company Altana.

At first the married mother-of-three spurned Sgarbi's advances but began an affair when the smooth-talking Sgarbi turned up unexpectedly in the south of France where she was on holiday the following month.

Later in August 2007 they met in a Holiday Inn hotel in Munich – where Klatten believed she would not run the risk of bumping into any acquaintances – for an "intimate" encounter that Sgarbi secretly filmed, according to the charges.

In September they met at the same hotel and this time Sgarbi allegedly said that he needed 10 million euros because he had injured a little girl in a car crash in Florida – asking Klatten to lend him a cool seven million euros.

Klatten swallowed his story, handing over the sum in the underground garage of the Holiday Inn in a cardboard box containing 14 plastic folders each with a thousand 500-euro banknotes.

Sgarbi then told the 46-year-old to leave her husband and put into a trust fund 290 million euros to fund their new life together.

Klatten then ended the relationship.

But then Sgarbi turned nasty, according to prosecutors, threatening to send compromising video footage of the two together to the press and to her husband, among others.

This time he allegedly demanded 49 million euros, which he subsequently reduced to 14 million euros, and set a deadline of January 15 last year. But she had long since informed the police, and Sgarbi was arrested.

She was not Sgarbi's only alleged victim, and the Klatten affair has prompted several others to come out of the woodwork.

According to German magazine Stern, he first came to the attention of the authorities in Geneva in 2001 because his "fiancĂ©e", one Countess Verena du Pasquier-Geubels – 50 years his senior – had gone to the police.

According to the list of charges against him, he spun a similar line with each of his victims, saying he needed millions of euros because he had injured a child in a road accident or claiming to have video footage of their steamy encounters.