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German art dealer gets six years in jail for cheating Aldi heir

17 march 2015, 10:50

 A German court on Monday sentenced Helge Achenbach, one of the country's best-known art dealers, to six years in prison for defrauding the heir of the Aldi supermarket chain, AFP reports.

A court in the western city of Essen ruled that the 62-year-old should serve one year less in prison than the prosecutors had sought.

Achenbach had earlier admitted cheating Berthold Albrecht, son of the Aldi founder Theo Albrecht, while selling him paintings and vintage cars.

The court found him guilty on 18 counts including fraud and abuse of confidence. Berthold Albrecht died in 2012 and Achenbach, who has been in custody since June last year, has expressed remorse several times to the court.

A probe began in 2012 after Berthold Albrecht's widow found irregularities in the bills related to the sales, including paintings by the likes of Pablo Picasso, Oskar Kokoschka and Gerhard Richter, and vintage Bugattis, Ferraris and Bentleys.

The court estimated that the overcharges on purchases of art and vintage cars amounted to nearly 20 million euros ($21 million) for Albrecht alone.

Achenbach has admitted to inflating invoices to mark up prices, and consequently his five percent commission that Albrecht had agreed to pay for artworks.

Achenbach has also admitted cheating Christian Boehringer, the owner of the Boehringer Ingolheim pharmaceutical empire.

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