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Vienna man 'blackmailed' Bacardi heiress

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Vienna Criminal Court. Photo: APA/FOHRINGER
16:52 CET+01:00
A Viennese man will appear in court later this month, accused of trying to extort money from wealthy rum empire heiress Monika Bacardi.

Former playboy Raphael Abarth, 57, is the stepson of the legendary car designer. He is in custody and will appear in Vienna Regional Criminal Court on November 20th, according to a report in the Kurier newspaper.

Bacardi, 54, accuses Abarth of trying to extort €110,000 from her via threats. “I lived in fear for mine and my daughter’s life,” she told police.

Abarth, who reportedly lives off just €800 a month, told Bacardi that he had mafia contacts and would sell lurid stories about her to the press.

He claimed to have damaging information about how Italian-born Bacardi, a former typist, came to marry the billionaire Luis Bacardi. Monika Bacardi has said his story is “nonsense”.

Abarth alleges that he helped Bacardi gain access to high society and that they made a pact that she would later pay him €300,000.

Bacardi married the rum baron in 2000 and he died five years later. She didn’t see Abarth again until five years ago when they met at a ball in Kitzbühel.

Bacardi said that after this meeting she gave him money, because she wanted to “help out an old friend” and he “had always been a nice young man”. She reportedly gave him money so he could pay for dental work and a faith healer.

Abarth then said that she owed him €110,000 and sent a demand through a lawyer. At this point Bacardi decided things had got out of hand and refused to give him more money.

She said that he then became “aggressive” and threatened her. Abarth’s lawyer said that his client “never acted with intent to blackmail”.

Police in Vienna said that Abarth had links to organized crime networks and was also wanted by police in Italy after being convicted in absentia for drug smuggling. He has been held in police custody since August 20th.

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