This newspaper is a time machine, locked in around the time of two World Wars, one World Cup and a lost age when it was permissible to poke fun at Germans.



  • Anybody who has dealt with Deutsche Telekom knows the meaning of despair. But are they really that bad? Which of the following do you regard as the worst thing about Germany?
  • show results

    all polls


F1 Ace Lauda Admits Losing in 70m Pyramid Scheme

Three times Formula One champion Niki Lauda has told a court that he fell for the biggest con of his life when he agreed to invest in what turned out to be a pyramid scheme run by disgraced businessman Michael Seidl.

Seidl is accused of persuading 44 of the rich and famous in Austria to invest 30 million euros in his Money Service Group (MSG) in a fraud trial taking place at Vaduz in Lichtenstein.

When auditors finally moved to try and recover some of the assets they found only £200,000 worth of cigars, fine wines and jewellery.

He managed to persuade wealthy investors to sign up by organising high-profile sponsorships which included the Swiss football league and the Formula One team Sauber among others.

Those who also lost out included ex-ski race ace Harti Weirather who lost 4 million euros.

In total experts said that they estimate about 2,000 investors in the German-speaking world lost money with the businessman with a total damage probably in excess of 70 million euros.

Experts say that what Seidl had created was a complicated pyramid scheme in which the money from new investors was used to fund his jet set lifestyle in Switzerland and to pay back interest to earlier investors.

Speaking to the court in which German-born financial adviser Seidl is accused of systematic fraud Lauda said: "In my entire life I have never been so ripped off as I was with this con."

Lauda who is well known for a series of adverts in which his famous parsimony is highlighted said that he had been contacted by Seidl when he offered to take over the sponsorship of the logo on the famous hat Lauda wears by paying 1.2 million euros a year over five years.

He also suggested that Lauda might want to invest some of that money in MSG, money which would be invested in stocks and shares and also solar energy projects. In the end Lauda had handed over 500,000 euros – money which he never saw again.

Lauda said: "The bottom line is that he was a complete conman – I should have punched him when I had the chance to bring the point home."

Lauda has always kept the amount of sponsorship paid for those who put logos on his trademark red baseball cap a closely guarded secret.

He had suffered extensive scarring from the burns to his head during the 1976 German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, losing most of his right ear as well as the hair on the right side of his head, his eyebrows and his eyelids. He only had enough reconstructive surgery to replace the lids and get them to work properly, but never felt a need to do any more. Since the accident he has always worn a cap to cover the scars on his head. He has arranged for sponsors to use the cap for advertising.

He wore the blue MSG baseball cap from January to July of last year before switching to the Abu-Dhabi investment company "aabar" that have sponsored the hat for the last year.

A verdict in the case is expected tomorrow (Friday).

German Herald

Tag cloud:
lost  experts  total  euros  Losing  baseball  sponsors  invest  Seidl  logo  Pyramid  Formula  businessman  court  sponsorships  German  money  investors  Lauda  fraud

Latest News


How Boris Becker Was Brougt Low by Cheap TV stunt
Three-time Wimbledon tennis ace Boris Becker has been accused of making himself into a laughing stock by taking part in a cheap publicity stunt this weekend to promote his new book "Life Is Not a Game". The stunt included having a giant bow with two fly swats strapped to his head to play table tennis.

GRIN AND BEAR IT - Brown Bears At The Dentist
With toothache in choppers this size, these brown bears at a German wildlife park had every right to be a bit grizzly.

FORK THAT - Worker turns Fork Lift Into Jousting Lance
German police are investigating after a hyper market worker turned his forklift truck into a jousting device and attempted to spear a fellow worker after a row.

DIRTY THIRTY - Fake Euro Note Warning By Cops
A German corner shop owner saw some of his profits go up in smoke after he accepted payment for a pack of cigarettes with this non-existent 30 Euro note.

MURDER MYSTERY: Did Killer Confess in Novel?
Fugitive Norbert Wieland, 66, has been on the run since his girlfriend Bettina Polzer's body was found at her apartment in Furstenfeldbruck, Germany.

WHITE BLAM MAN - Brit Cheats Death By Seconds in Crane Smash
A British white van man cheated death by seconds in Germany when a falling 130 crane arm cut his truck in half.

UNTRUCKY BREAK: Thief Facing Justice
This smug looking truck thief will soon be facing justice - after speed cameras caught him fleeing the scene in Sarstedt, Germany.

NAZI SHOCK: Death Camp Victims Buried Beside SS Officers
Nazi death camp victims were secretly buried beside SS officers at a German World War II cemetery, outraged historians have revealed.

PICNIC BASKET BABY MURDERED - Baby abandoned in River Danube
A mother whose newborn baby boy was found dead in a picnic hamper with his throat cut is being quizzed by police in Regensburg, Germany.

WE ARE NOT EMU-SED - 7 Police Cars Chase Emu
Heavy handed cops gunned down a six foot tall emu after it escaped from an enclosure in Heimfeld, Germany.


Top stories – last 7 days