BMW heiress opens up about gigolo blackmailer

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21 Nov, 2008 Updated Fri 21 Nov 2008 12:15 CEST
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Germany's richest woman said turning in her blackmailing ex-lover was a difficult choice but was necessary to protect her family and defend women against similar situations in the future.

In an interview with the Financial Times Deutschland on Friday, Susanne Klatten, 46, said the media blitz surrounding the investigation of former lover Helg Sgarbi made her a "victim for a second time" but also brought relief.

Klatten, worth an estimated €13 billion, turned in her former beau after he demanded a reported €14 million to keep secretely taped videos of their liaisons to himself. He had already coaxed €7 million from her by claiming the mafia was after him for supposedly harming a young girl in an accident.

"It was a moment of clarity: you're a victim and you have to defend yourself. I fought back in the name of all women in my family and in the name of many other women as well," Klatten told the paper.

Klatten inherited a major stake in German carmaker BMW from her father and is also owner of Altana, a German chemicals group. Her husband, with whom she has three children, has reportedly stood at her side during the ordeal.

With the help of former German special agents, Klatten went to Bavarian prosecutors late last year. They clandestinely taped conversations with Sgarbi, who was arrested at an Austrian highway rest stop early this year.

"This was our only chance. Otherwise this would have gone on forever. You can't take that. You have to defend yourself. I'm glad that I did it," she told the paper.

Sgarbi, 43, is reportedly a member of a gang of romeos that launched love affairs with rich European women in order to blackmail them for millions. He is currently being held in a Munich jail and is expected to go on trial by the end of the year.



2008/11/21 12:15

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