International Herald Tribune Swiss swindler is jailed for blackmailing heiress Reuters, The Associated Press Published: March 9, 2009 MUNICH: A former Swiss investment banker was jailed Monday for six years for trying to blackmail the wealthiest woman in Germany, the heiress to the BMW car empire, with secret video of their lovemaking. The man, Helg Sgarbi, admitted at the start of his trial that he had seduced the heiress, Susanne Klatten, and three other wealthy women, persuading them to pay him almost â¬10 million, or nearly $13 million, under various false pretexts. State prosecutors said the women were victims in a series of scams by Sgarbi, who trained as a lawyer, spoke six languages and worked as a banker at Credit Suisse until the mid-1990s. He also served as a reserve officer in the Swiss Army, the prosecutors said. "I regret what I did," Sgarbi, 44, told the Munich court, with little emotion. "I apologize to the women involved." Klatten, a member of the Quandt family - the leading shareholders in BMW - went public last year with the story of how her lover secretly taped intimate footage and later demanded tens of million of euros not to make it public. Sgarbi's admission spared Klatten, who is rarely seen in public, a court appearance. Klatten, a 46-year-old married mother of three, met Sgarbi at a health center, the prosecutors said. Posing as a special envoy for war zones, Sgarbi won Klatten over by sending her text messages and telephoning her with declarations of his love. She later handed him a cardboard box containing â¬7 million in â¬500 notes, believing his story that he had paralyzed a child in a traffic accident in the United States and needed the money to pay compensation to avoid being jailed. Klatten ended the relationship after Sgarbi demanded more money. He responded by threatening to send photos and tapes of their hotel-room meetings to friends, family and the media unless she paid him â¬49 million. Leafing through the defendant's rÃ©sumÃ©, Judge Gilbert Wolf read part of a glowing job reference from the investment bank Credit Suisse, describing Sgarbi's role there as a specialist in mergers and acquisitions. One prosecutor, Thomas Steinkraus-Koch, had called for a sentence of nine years in prison. "Where is the money?" he asked the defendant. "Where are the tapes? And who are the accomplices?" Klatten's wealth is estimated by Forbes magazine at almost $10 billion, making her the 68th-richest person in the world. She owns a little more than half of the chemical company Altana and 12.5 percent of BMW. Newspapers had reported that Sgarbi had sought to justify his actions as revenge for his Jewish grandfather's forced labor in Quandt family factories during World War II. But no mention was made of such a claim Monday. The Quandt family had close ties to the Nazi party and built its fortune supplying uniforms for the German Army and railroad workers. The first wife of Klatten's grandfather went on to marry Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister.