Germany-HeiressBlackm 11-01

Germany’s richest woman: blackmailed for millions

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BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s richest woman Susanne Klatten claims she has been blackmailed by a man who threatened to release pictures of them together if she didn’t pay him millions of euros (dollars), her spokesman said Saturday.

The BMW heiress’ personal spokesman Joerg Appelhans told The Associated Press that the 46-year-old Klatten approached Munich prosecutors in January to report that she was the victim of fraud and blackmail by a Swiss national he identified as Helg S.

Appelhans said the man threatened to release "images of their encounters together."


"Mrs. Klatten made that decision (to report the blackmail) because she knew that her relationship with Mr. S. had an exclusively criminal background," Appelhans said. "From the beginning the goal was to betray and blackmail her."

Anton Winkler, a spokesman for Munich state prosecutors, confirmed that an investigation has been opened and that a man by the name of Helg Sgarbi has been in custody in Munich for about a month. But he would not say whether Sgarbi’s detention was related to Klatten’s claims.

"We are not giving out any information on the matter," Winkler said.

Rome daily La Repubblica, quoting documents German investigators sent to Italian prosecutors, reported Friday that Sgarbi allegedly tried to obtain 40 million euros ($51 million) from Klatten.

The daughter of BMW magnate Herbert Quandt, Klatten holds a 46-percent stake in the company in conjunction with her mother and brother. She also owns a 51.1-percent share of chemical company Altana.

Forbes magazine listed her as the 68th richest person in the world in 2007, with a personal fortune of around $9.6 billion.

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