The American business executive who had been held hostage by workers at his company’s Beijing factory has arrived back in the US after being freed in return for what he claims was a ransom of around half a million dollars.
Chip Starnes told NBC that he left the factory on Thursday following a cash payment of between $500,000 and $600,000. “One hundred percent I got held for ransom,” he said.
According to Mr Starnes, who co-owns Florida-based Speciality Medical Supplies, he had travelled to China because his company was closing its local plastics division. The plan was to move the division to Mumbai, and he had flown to Beijing to lay off and make severance payments to 30 workers. However, when he arrived, workers in other divisions began demanding similar severance packages, even though they were not being laid off. “The entire factory turned against me,” he said, rejecting claims that the workers were owed salaries. “That’s false, they were all paid.”