Kidnapped trio lured to Hong Kong by bogus property deal and held for HK$19m ransom
Indian businessman, with his banker and lawyer, was the target of failed multimillion-dollar abduction attempt that has ended in four arrests
Clifford Lo and Niall Fraser
The key target of a failed international kidnap-for-ransom bid that played out in Hong Kong last weekend was an Indian businessman and political leader lured to the city by the bogus promise of a property deal.
The 55-year-old businessman, surnamed Khera - who is also the leader of a Sikh political group in the Punjab region of India - arrived in Hong Kong last week with his lawyer, surnamed Dhillon, and his bank manager, surnamed Mavi.
The trio were abducted within hours of their arrival and held at gunpoint for three days as their captors demanded a HK$19 million ransom, according to police sources.
The kidnappers threatened to kill the trio if the ransom was not paid.
The businessman and his two associates, aged 35 and 48, were released at Chek Lap Kok airport on Monday and are now understood to be under police protection, with one of the kidnappers still at large.
Senior police officers involved in the investigation yesterday described the plot as "well-planned" and said that two more alleged abductors had been arrested, taking the total number of arrests in the case to four.
The earlier arrests involved a man in Hong Kong and a 28-year-old man in India, who is believed to have travelled to the city with the victims and then returned to India to collect the ransom from their families. Hong Kong police are still hunting for one man in connection with the case.
One police source said no ransom money was paid. "Investigations show that an Indian businessman was offered a bogus investment and was lured to Hong Kong to finalise a deal," the source said. "He then came to Hong Kong with his lawyer and a bank manager."
The three victims were picked up by the gang at the airport upon their arrival from India on Friday. They were understood to have been offered accommodation on Lantau Island.
"Their ordeal began the following day when they were driven to a hut in Sheung Shui, where they were assaulted and ordered to strip to their underwear at gunpoint and then tied up," the source said. "They were detained in the hut and guarded by a group of Asian men armed with choppers and a pistol-like object." Hong Kong and Indian police co-operated on the case.
Another police source said the three captives were kicked out of a delivery van at Chek Lap Kok airport on Monday afternoon after the abductors discovered they had been tailed by police.
The source said the three victims suffered minor injuries and that their cash and valuables were stolen.
A few hours after their release, a man was arrested in Tin Shui Wai. Two other men were arrested in Kwai Chung and North District, respectively, on Tuesday.
According to police, the three alleged kidnappers are of South Asian origin. The three were being questioned by detectives in Tai Po last night. A senior police officer close to the investigation said the three would probably face an array of charges.
The man still being sought is aged between 40 and 45 years, of South Asian extraction, about 1.78 metres tall and of medium build with short hair.
- A 27-year-old man will appear in Fanling Court today charged with one count of kidnapping.