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20 September 2012, 11:09
Stradivarius dealer Dietmar Machold has admitted embezzlement as his trial for fraud begins in Austria.
The biggest fraud case in the history of the violin trade has begun, with violin dealer Dietmar Machold admitting to embezzlement. He has denied all charges of fraud, however. The trial, which will last three days, could see Machold facing up to ten years in prison.
Machold admitted that he had embezzled money from the sale of instruments, given to him by customers, according to Reuters. He confirmed that he had diverted the sale of five instruments, including a Stradivarius violin, that were entrusted to him. The estimated value of those instruments alone is $3.4 million.
The accused also claimed that the instruments in his care were like "my children", and told the court how he variously lent them to aspiring musicians. He denied, however, that he deliberately mis-sold instruments at vastly inflated prices.
Machold told the court in his testimony that he now had debts amounting to around 250 million euros. He also recently underwent legal action from a construction firm that meant his castle home was under threat from repossession.