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Sat Apr 18 21:23:47 SAST 2015

Major player in rare and expensive violins convicted of fraud

Sapa-AFP | 10 November, 2012 13:18
Defendant German businessman Dietmar Machold, wearing handcuffs, awaits the start of his trial for fraud and embezzlement at a court in Vienna September 19, 2012. Machold is accused of fraud in dealing in historic musical instruments including Stradivarius violins.
Image by: HEINZ-PETER BADER / REUTERS

Dietmar Machold, one of the world's foremost dealers in rare and expensive violins until his firm went bankrupt in 2010, has been sentenced in Austria to six years in jail for fraud.

"You played big and lost big," presiding judge Claudia Moravec-Loidolt told the Vienna court on Friday. "But you showed willingness to accept the responsibility."

At the height of his career German-born Machold lived in a castle and arranged the sales of violins worth millions of dollars made by Antonio Stradivari and other famed masters to clients around the world.

Arrested in Switzerland in 2011 and extradited to Austria, the 63-year-old's crimes included embezzling money from clients and obtaining loans from banks using violins he did not own as collateral.

His ex-wife and former mother-in-law were also given suspended sentences of 12 months in prison for helping Machold conceal assets from his creditors such as his collections of watches and cameras.

"I failed, and in my personal life too. I lost my beloved wife," an emotional Machold told the court. "I cannot deny anything and for this I will be punished."

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