Two charged for kidnapping mother of Singapore's 35th richest man

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 January, 2014, 12:24am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 January, 2014, 4:04pm

Two men were charged with kidnapping on Friday in Singapore after the elderly mother of a supermarket tycoon was abducted and held for ransom, a rare instance in a country that prides itself on its low crime rate.

Lim Hock Chee, founder and chief executive of Sheng Siong Group, said his mother, 79, was lured into a car on Wednesday morning by a man who said he had seen her son injured in a bad fall.

The kidnappers then called Lim and demanded a S$20 million (HK$122 million) ransom. After almost 12 hours of negotiations, Lim left S$2 million in a bag under a tree in a park, and his mother was then released in the early hours of Thursday morning.

The two men, aged 41 and 50, were arrested shortly after they picked up the ransom money from a suburban park and released the 79-year-old victim, police said. and the money was recovered.

They were charged in court on Friday morning.

“This was a very scary experience, every minute was in fear,” Lim said in a video posted on the website of The Straits Times daily.

Lim is the 35th richest man in Singapore according to Forbes Singapore last year, with a net worth of S$654 million.

He established Sheng Siong in 1985 and it operates 33 stores. The company listed in August 2011 and is valued at S$835.33 million.

The kidnapping was only the fourth such case on the island in 13 years. Singapore, which provides for the death penalty or caning for certain offences, has some of the lowest crime rates in the world, with 581 cases of crime per 100,000 people, according to official figures.

“Kidnapping for ransom is very rare in Singapore, but is a very severe offence, which is punishable by life imprisonment or the death penalty,” deputy commissioner of police Hoong Wee Teck said in a statement.

With additional reporting from AFP