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Taiwan gambling millionaire murdered after kidnap

A Taiwan businessman who reportedly accumulated a fortune worth tens of millions of US dollars through illegal gambling has been murdered by kidnappers including his chauffeur in a case that rocked the island, police said on Monday (Aug 25).

TAIPEI: A Taiwan businessman who reportedly accumulated a fortune worth tens of millions of US dollars through illegal gambling has been murdered by kidnappers including his chauffeur in a case that rocked the island, police said on Monday (Aug 25).

Shih Chia-chin was picked up by chauffeur Hsieh Yuan-hsin upon his return to the northern airport of Taoyuan on Aug 18. Three hours later, the accountant of Shih's company received a phone call from kidnappers demanding a ransom of NT$50 million (S$2.1 million).

After negotiating with the kidnappers, Shih's family wired NT$30 million to three designated bank accounts and alerted police, according to a statement from police in the central city of Taichung. It said Hsieh tried to withdraw the ransom but gave up and fled after he was asked by a bank clerk to show his ID.

Prosecutors issued a warrant barring Hsieh from leaving Taiwan. But about four hours later the suspect managed to board a flight for Thailand with a fake passport, police said.

Shih's body was found Sunday evening in a ditch in a remote area of the southern city of Tainan. Police said at least two other people were involved in the kidnap. Citing police sources, the United Daily News said it was suspected there could have been a mastermind behind Hsieh, who has no criminal record. It said ransom might not have been the main purpose of the abduction.

Local media said Shih had kept a low profile since he survived a kidnapping attempt four years ago. Shih was sentenced to an 18-month suspended prison term after his Internet gambling ring was cracked nine years ago, the News said, adding that he had built up a fortune worth billions of Taiwan dollars. 

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