Jailed Financier Accused of Swindling Millions Said to Fear Revenge : Finance: Martin Frankel is considering fighting extradition from Germany, his lawyer says.

From Associated Press

Since his arrest, Martin Frankel has run and rerun through his head the events of the last months: how it came to pass that he traded his Connecticut mansion for a one-person cell in northern Germany.

German attorney Thomas Piplak visited Frankel, accused of bilking clients out of millions, in jail Monday and described the man as depressed, exhausted and--above all--fearful that the people he is accused of swindling might seek revenge.

So great are Frankel's fears, Piplak said, that he is considering fighting extradition to the United States.

"If we got the impression that he's not secure because there are strong, powerful groups after him, of course we would do everything to keep him here," Piplak said. "He fears being attacked, because he knows a lot of things."

Frankel was arrested Saturday night in Hamburg's Hotel Prem, ending a four-month international manhunt for the 44-year-old alleged rogue financier. Police say he siphoned at least $218 million from several insurance companies; a lawsuit by some of them puts the loss at $915 million.

As much as $1.98 billion may also be missing from the St. Francis of Assisi Foundation, which investigators say was established by Frankel in the British Virgin Islands last August.

When police used a spare key to open his hotel room Saturday, they say they found him with an unspecified sum of cash, diamonds, a computer and numerous fake passports.

"He was surprised by being arrested; he didn't expect it," Piplak said.

Unshaven and appearing morose during the hourlong meeting with his lawyer, Frankel didn't elaborate on who he thinks might pursue him.

Piplak suggested Frankel back up his concerns with a written statement for the judge.

But Piplak said Frankel--who has been described by other acquaintances as a pathological liar--is worried that people won't take him seriously.

"He's doubtful whether anybody will believe him," Piplak said.

Prosecutors have not yet received extradition papers from the United States, and Frankel is being held on a German charge for possessing a fake British passport.

Hamburg's Holstenglacis prison, where Frankel can expect to pass the months before his extradition case is decided, has a reputation as a tough place filled with drug suspects awaiting trial. Piplak said Frankel is receiving no special treatment despite his high profile.

Frankel has his own cell, with bath and toilet to accommodate an unspecified organ disorder that requires him to drink lots of water, his lawyer said. For now, he wears his own clothes--a blue shirt and khaki pants--and has requested kosher meals for religious reasons.

But the isolation of the cell has made Frankel feel alone in a country where he has no friends or family. Cynthia Allison, the 35-year-old woman who accompanied him in Germany who was also briefly arrested, then released, is nowhere to be found, Piplak said.

"He has no contacts, has no family," Piplak said. Why Frankel chose to hide out in Germany remains unclear to his lawyer.

But even though fighting extradition would prolong his stay in prison in a foreign land, Frankel's fears appear to be outweighing his sense of isolation.

Piplak said it's not the criminal charges Frankel fears, it's his adversaries.

"He's not afraid to go back to the United States, he's afraid he won't be secure," Piplak said. "His main feeling is being frightened."

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World