German Geezer Gang Kidnaps Investment Advisor Who Lost Their Money

| Tue Feb. 9, 2010 5:03 PM EST

The British Daily Mail today reports on what it calls a “gang of Old Rage Pensioners” in Bavaria who are accused of kidnapping and assaulting their financial adviser because, they said, he had “taken us for a ride.”

Keep in mind that this colorful account is from a British tabloid: Terms like “torture” are there for sensational effect, the events are still under contention, and none of the geezers has yet been convicted. According to NPR’s “The World,” the old people are charged with abduction and grievous bodily harm--the latter, apparently, for injuries caused when they hit the financial advisor with their walkers.

While the senior are on trial, the financial advisor is also under investigation for fraud.

The four German seniors said they were so incensed over the losses that American-born investment specialist James Amburn incurred that they hatched the plan to kidnap him in a bid to get their cash back....

Amburn was ambushed outside his home in Speyer, west Germany, where he was bound with masking tape and bundled into the boot of a car after being hit over the head with the walking frame of one of his kidnappers.

Prosecutors charged the two married couples, aged between 60 and 79, as well as the co-conspirator, with carrying out the kidnapping in order to recoup losses amounting to £2.3 million in investments that soured due to the international financial downturn.

According to the prosecutors, kidnappers Roland Koenig, 74, and Willy Dehmer, 60, attacked Amburn outside his home and bundled him into an oversize cardboard box which they wheeled to the boot of a silver Audi saloon car.

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He was driven 300 miles to a house on the shores of beautiful Lake Chiemsee in Bavaria--but not before escaping at a service station. His elderly abductors recaptured him and beat him with the walking frame, causing Amburn two broken ribs.

The court in Traunstein heard prosecutors describe the kidnapping and torture as ‘almost surreal–except it happened.’

For four days Amburn was kept in the cellar of the house in June last year, beaten and tortured by the pensioners who saw their comfortable retirement dreams evaporating before their eyes.

Another couple, retired doctors Gerhard and Iris Fell, aged 63 and 66, who arrived to assist the kidnappers, admitted their roles in the plot. Mr Fell was not in court due to illness.

Koenig and his wife Sieglinde, 79, made a partial admission but he, bizarrely, told the court that Amburn was there ‘willingly.’ He said he and the others had met Amburn in Florida in the 1990’s and they possessed holiday homes in the state. ‘He said he was a business adviser and promised us yields of 18 percent on our savings,’ he told the court. ’At first that happened--but then he took the p**s.’

They met up co-incidentally with Dehmer who told them Amburn owed him $690,000. Together, say prosecutors, the plan coalesced to ‘teach him a lesson.’

‘The fear of death was indescribable,’ Amburn said, adding that he was beaten and tortured during four days of captivity in a cellar room where he was held naked. 

He was rescued when he was ordered to send a fax to release funds from a Swiss bank and managed to scribble a message on it for the recipient to call police. He said: ‘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.’

Allowed out of the cellar for a cigarette break in the garden while the kidnappers awaited their loot, Amburn attempted to escape over a 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 Koening shouted: ‘He’s a burglar!’

Amburn was then dragged back to the cellar.  Shortly afterwards, the Swiss bank telephoned police in Germany and a team of armed commandos stormed the house.

His captors now face a minimum of five years in jail each when the trial concludes in March. Their lawyer Harald Baumgaertl insisted before the court that his clients were not ‘big criminals.’ But the prosecution disagreed, saying they showed a ‘high degree of criminal energy.’

This post also appears on James Ridgeway's blog Unsilent Generation.

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