Convicted gangster Yip Kai-foon was paid $75 million of the ransom for two tycoons, even though he was in jail during the kidnappings, it was claimed yesterday. Guangdong Public Security officials denied Yip's claims that he had not plotted with accused crime kingpin Cheung Tze-keung to abduct the two businessmen, widely reported to be Victor Li Tzar-kuoi and Walter Kwok Ping-sheung. Cheung, 43, alias 'Big Spender', has been detained with 17 other Hong Kong residents and 14 mainlanders over a crime spree including the two kidnappings which are believed to have netted $1.6 billion in ransoms. Mainland police said Yip, jailed in Hong Kong last year, lied when he told Next Magazine he was not involved, the China News Service said. Officials claimed Yip tried to strike a deal to give information against Cheung in return for being allowed to emigrate. But once Cheung's case was publicised he instead demanded to meet prominent figures and reporters to proclaim his innocence and say he was being framed by public security officials. It is understood Cheung and Yip became acquainted through one of Yip's lieutenants, surnamed Chan, when the pair were in jail. Cheung headed a gang involved mostly in car theft, robbery and forged identity documents while Yip's group was renowned for its violence. Sources said in early 1996 Cheung and Yip plotted the two kidnappings, and Cheung allegedly gave $1.4 million in 'petty cash' to Yip and Chan to buy guns. Yip was arrested in May 1996, after he and others sparked a gun battle with police after they got off a boat in Kennedy Town. Cheung and Chan then carried out the kidnappings, receiving $1.6 billion in ransom. Although Yip did not participate, he got a $75 million cut, the officials said. The cash was paid to his elder brother Yip Kai-chung through a number of intermediaries, they added. Yip's brothers Kai-yuk, Kai-yin and Kai-chung, and sister Ping-kwan, all knew the money was from a ransom, and were in illegal possession of firearms. They are now detained on the mainland. Guangdong police found $13.7 million of the kidnap proceeds under the floor of the kitchen in Yip's family house in Shanmei and have demanded the remainder of the $75 million. They have frozen properties bought by the Yip family in Shanmei and Guangzhou. The investigation continues.