Former Beate Uhse Chairman, Shareholder Arrested in Munich

MUNICH, Germany—Richard Orthmann, a longtime tax advisor, shareholder and former chairman of the board of German adult powerhouse Beate Uhse, was arrested Aug. 6 at the Munich Airport, charged with extortion and breach of fiduciary duty related to unsecured loans in the amount of 45 million Euros he received in 2005-6 from a bank in Flensburg, Germany.

According to news reports, the money was allegedly diverted into shell companies controlled by Orthmann and used to purchase Beate Uhse shares. Orthmann was a member of Beate Uhse’s supervisory board from 1999-2005 and the board’s chairman from 2001-5. Reports indicate that at one time he held as much as a 53 percent stake in Beate Uhse, but that since May 2006 he has not had any official or financial stake in the company. Since selling his shares, he has reportedly resided in Switzerland and has become involved in real estate through his own company, Orthmann AG.

News reports further indicate that a current employee of Orthmann’s also has been arrested in connection with the case and that more arrest warrants may be pending. It is further alleged that Orthmann resigned his position at Beate Uhse when investigations into his activities were instigated.

Orthmann is reported to have been a major customer of the bank in question, Flensburg Sparkasse, along with other individuals connected with Beate Uhse. The Flensburg savings bank hit hard times in 2008 and, according to reports, was on the verge of bankruptcy before merging with another bank, Nord-Ostsee Sparkasse. It is unclear whether the bank’s troubles were related to the loans.

When contacted for comment following Orthmann’s arrest, a spokesperson for Beate Uhse told reporters the company had nothing to do with the situation. "Mr. Orthmann has acted in his own interest," the spokesperson said.

Orthmann reportedly remains in jail.