Kidnapped: James Arnburn was held at a house on the shores of Lake Chiemsee during his ordeal (file picture)
A gang of wealthy pensioners kidnapped and tortured a financial adviser in Germany after he lost £2m of their savings during the financial crisis.
Dubbed ‘The Geritol Gang’ by police – after the arthritis drug – the kidnappers seized James Arnburn and subjected him to a four-day ordeal
He was burned with cigarettes, beaten with a chair leg and chained up ‘like an animal’
Mr Arnburn, 56, described how two of his kidnappers, identified only as Roland K, 74, and Willy D, 60, hit him with a Zimmer frame outside his home in Speyer, west Germany before binding him with duct tape.
He was bundled into the boot of a silver Audi saloon and driven 300 miles to the home of Roland K on the shores of Lake Chiemsee in Bavaria.
As the financial advisor, who runs investment firm Digitalglobalnet, was bundled into the cellar another couple, retired doctors Gerhard and Iris F, aged 63 and 66, arrived to assist his kidnappers.
Mr Amburn said: ‘I had known these people for 25 years. I had no reason to be afraid. But as I went into my home I was jumped from the rear and struck.
‘They bound me with masking tape until I looked like a mummy. It took them quite a while because they ran out of breath. When they loaded me into the car I thought I was a dead man.
‘I was bleeding from my eyes, nose and my mouth. But the nightmare had only just started.’
During his confinement in an unheated cellar, Mr Amburn claims he was burned with cigarettes, beaten, had two of his ribs broken when he was hit with a chair leg and chained up ‘like an animal.’
He says he was fed only two bowls of watery soup during his four days in the dungeon.
‘I was led into the cellar,’ recalled Mr Amburn, ‘And I saw a folding bed and a WC reserved for me. They immediately went on about their money.
‘I told them what I had told them before, that due to market conditions, unfortunately it was gone.
‘I was struck. Again and again they threatened to kill me. The fear of death was indescribable. I never thought I would make it out alive.
‘I tried to buy time, to ease the situation, but I didn’t know if night was day or day night.
‘I told them that if I sold certain securities in Switzerland they could get their money and for this I had to send a fax to a bank in that country so funds could be transferred.’
They agreed and he sent a fax. But unbeknown to them, he had scribbled a message on the bottom of the paper for whoever received it to call the police.
‘It was disguised as a policy which is spelled police in German,’ he said.
‘I wrote call.police and they didn’t notice it but someone at the bank was bright enough to pick up on it.’
Allowed out of the cellar on Friday for cigarette break in the garden while the kidnappers waited on their loot, Mr Amburn attempted to escape over the wall.
In the pouring rain he ran down the street pursued by his captors in the Audi A8 they had used to transport him to the house.
Several people saw him but Roland K shouted: ‘He’s a burglar!’
He was then dragged back to the cellar where he sustained several broken ribs as a ‘punishment’ for trying to escape.
Shortly afterwards, the Swiss bank telephoned police in Germany and an armed team of special SEK commandos was scrambled and the house was stormed in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Forty armed officers rescued Mr Amburn who was naked except for his underwear.
A physician had to be on hand to help his captors into police vans because of their various infirmities.
They now face up to 15 years in jail each for illegal hostage taking, torture and grievous bodily harm.
Chief public prosecutor Volker Ziegler said: ‘They were angry because they invested money in properties in Florida and he lost it all.
‘This was black money – they hadn’t declared it to the revenue authorities in Germany.’
Mr Amburn, who needed hospital treatment for his injuries before being allowed home, added: ‘They threatened me with the Russian mafia too. I am not sure I feel all that safe even though they are behind bars.’
By Allan Hall
Last updated at 11:29 AM on 23rd June 2009
Source: Daily Mail