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Germany: Michael Schumacher's family blackmailed, 2 arrested

June 24, 2024

German prosecutors say criminals tried to blackmail the family of seven-time F1 world champion Michael Schumacher. They allegedly demanded millions to keep quiet.

Former Formula One World Champion German Michael Schumacher (r) and his wife Corinna joke at the Nürburgring 21 July 2007 in Nürburg, Germany.
Schumacher's wife Corinna has had to take the lead for the family dealing with the press and public since Michael's 2013 skiing accidentImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Prosecutors in Wuppertal on Monday said it was pursuing a blackmail investigation against at least two individuals accused of trying to extort money from the family of German F1 legend Michael Schumacher

Last week, the German officials said two people had been arrested on suspicion of attempted blackmail "to the disadvantage of a celebrity." On Monday, Wuppertal prosecutors confirmed media reports the Schumacher family was targeted.

According to prosecutors, the suspects told employees of the family that they possessed information the Schumachers would not want to be released in public.

"They demanded a payment in the millions in order to prevent the publication of the data on the dark web," prosecutors said of the case on Monday. "As proof that they did indeed possess the files in question, the blackmailers sent individual files to the family." 

Investigators used "technical means" to ascertain that the blackmailers had been operating from the western German city of Wuppertal. Wuppertal's prosecutors took the case over from colleagues in Kassel when this became apparent, one day before the suspects were arrested.

Michael Schumacher skiing in Ferrari overalls. Archive image from 2005.
Schumacher has been out of the public eye ever since his serious skiing accident in 2013Image: Oliver Multhaup/dpa/picture alliance

Father and son in investigative detention

The suspects are 53- and 30-year-old father and son, who were already on parole for another crime. As of Monday, they were in investigative detention after being collared on June 19.

"On the same day, eight properties were searched," prosecutors said, including the suspects' main residences, secondary residences, and the older man's workplace. 

They could face a fine or a jail sentence of up to 5 years if tried and convicted, but prosecutors said the "extensive investigations" were ongoing.

Schumacher, until recently the most successful F1 driver of all time, suffered serious cranial injuries in a skiing accident in 2013. Although exact details on the 55-year-old's condition are not clear, he has made no public appearances since and does not appear likely to. His family has repeatedly appealed for privacy. 

Corinna Schumacher and her daughter Gina
Schumacher's wife Corinna (left) often represents her husband at public events, such as accepting this year's state prize for Schumacher's native North Rhine-Westphalia on his behalf along with his daughter Gina-Maria (right)Image: Marius Becker/dpa/picture alliance

Edited by: Darko Janjevic

Hallam Mark Kommentarbild App
Mark Hallam News and current affairs writer and editor with DW since 2006.@marks_hallam