10 February 2010
Four pensioners have appeared in court accused of kidnapping their financial advisor.
The pensioners allegedly blamed him for losing two and a half million euros of their money during the recent financial crisis.
Click to hear the report:
In Germany, if you think your financial advisor has been giving you bad advice and messing up your investments, you can complain to the regulators, you can go to the police. But in Bavaria, one group of pensioners stands accused of employing a much more direct method of registering their dissatisfaction. They're on trial for kidnapping their financial advisor and holding him hostage.
Four senior citizens, aged between 63 and 79, had invested nearly three and a half million dollars in the US property market and lost it all in the sub-prime mortgage meltdown. They'd concluded that the man who'd handled the investment should now reimburse them.
According to prosecutors, last summer the pensioner posse plus one accomplice abducted the financial advisor outside his house, tied him, gagged him, put him in a box and transported him in the boot of a car 450 kilometres to a lakeside retreat.
He claims to have spent four days locked in the cellar there and to have been tortured. After agreeing to their demands, the prisoner was allowed to send a fax to Switzerland arranging payment. He concealed the phrase 'call the Police' in the text and the alarm was raised. Soon after a crack team of commandos came to the rescue.
On the opening day of the trial, the 74 year old alleged ringleader of the gang avoided using the word 'kidnap'. He said he and his co-defendants had only wanted to treat their guest to a couple of days holiday in Bavaria.
Steve Rosenberg, BBC News, Berlin
Click to hear the vocabulary:
- messing up
spoiling, causing problems for
- the regulators
officially appointed people who make sure that rules are followed within an industry or organisation
- registering their dissatisfaction
making it known how unhappy they are
- holding him hostage
capturing and keeping him until they get what they want
- the sub-prime mortgage meltdown
the financial crisis caused by too many unpaid home loans that are owed to banks around the world
- the pensioner posse
the group or gang of retired people working together
someone who helps another person to commit a crime
kidnapped, illegally took someone away
- gagged him
tied a piece of cloth over his mouth or put it inside his mouth to stop him from speaking or calling for help
- a crack team of commandos
a highly skilled team of soldiers, specially trained to carry out raids and rescue people who are being held hostage
other people also accused of committing the crime