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Vienna man jailed for Bacardi blackmail

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Vienna man jailed for Bacardi blackmail
Monika Bacardi. Photo: Courtesy Monika Bacardi
15:58 CET+01:00
A Viennese man found guilty of trying to extort money from wealthy rum empire heiress Monika Bacardi has been sentenced to 21 months in prison.

Former playboy Raphael Abarth, 57, is the stepson of a famous car designer but had fallen on hard times. 

According to the Austrian Press Agency he had bombarded 54-year-old Bacardi - who he met in Monaco 30 years ago - with calls and emails and tried to intimidate her into handing over €110,000 before his arrest in August 2014.

She said that she feared for her and her daughter’s life and couldn’t sleep.

He must serve seven months in jail and the remaining 14 in the community, as long as he doesn’t break the rules of his probation.

Abarth claimed that he introduced Bacardi to rum baron Lord Luis Bacardi, who she later married. He died in 2005 at the age of 76 in Monte Carlo, leaving his wife a fortune.

Abarth, however, lived on social assistance, and allegedly told Bacardi that he had mafia contacts who could help him claim money she owed him. 

In court he pled guilty and said that he was “ashamed” but had been “desperate and in need”. His “world had collapsed” after finding out that he was a wanted man in Italy for alleged collaboration with the mafia. He denies having been involved with the mafia.

He said that “officially” Bacardi owed him nothing but that privately they had agreed that he would be recompensed to the tune of €300,000 after he introduced her to her future husband.

After meeting again at a ball in Kitzbühel Bacardi did give him some money to pay for dental work, because she wanted to “help out an old friend” but said that he later demanded more and became threatening.

Monika Bacardi was accompanied by several bodyguards during the trial and carried a large umbrella, to shield her from unwanted paparazzi. 

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