SINGAPORE: Singaporean businessman Kenneth Ng, 28, was asked to travel to Penang to track down a Malaysian moneylender who had reneged on a deal involving S$1 million.
Little did he know he had been set up.
In Penang, Ng and his brother Gabriel, who had accompanied him on the trip, were kidnapped, bundled into a car and taken to Georgetown Hotel, where they were held hostage for two days in February 2016.
Ng's father and fiancé in Singapore were asked to cough up US$250,000 for their release, pressured by the four people who had stood to gain from the million-dollar deal that fell through.
25 MILLION VENEZUELAN BOLIVARS
Mastermind Huang Dong, who is believed to be based in China, had set up a “currency exchange transaction” involving 25 million Venezuelan bolivars (S$3.5 million) in a bank account in Venezuela, which he wanted to exchange for either US dollars or Singapore dollars.
Huang's three accomplices – Singaporeans Judy Wee Aye Fong and Benjamin Ling Jia Liang, and Singapore permanent resident Fong Ling Ling – put him in touch with Ng, who in turn found a Malaysian moneylender known as “Ali”, who was willing to “exchange” the 25 million Venezuelan bolivars for S$1 million.
Wee, Ling, Fong stood to gain between S$20,000 and S$255,000 from the deal.
Ng himself would have pocketed S$195,000 in commission, had the deal been successful.
However, after Huang had transferred the money to “Ali”, the moneylender reneged on the deal.
Huang was furious, and he and Wee told Ng to go to Penang to hunt down “Ali”.
THE "MAIN LINK" TO THE MASTERMIND
On Wednesday (Feb 22), a year after the kidnapping, Wee, 53, was sentenced to seven years and six weeks’ jail after she pleaded guilty to three charges for engaging in a conspiracy to commit extortion.
Prosecutors sought a seven-year jail term for her, the “main link” to “mastermind” Huang.
Wee was “an active participant” in the plot, deputy public prosecutor Christine Liu said.
She called Ng’s father and fiancé multiple times, sometimes on Huang’s instructions, demanding US$250,000 for the brothers’ release.
She also gave instructions to Ling and Fong, who likewise called the father and fiancé, pressuring them to transfer the money to a bank account in China.
No money was delivered, because Wee, Ling and Fong were arrested on Feb 24, 2016 – the same day the brothers were released in a joint operation involving Singapore and Malaysian police.
Ling earlier pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years’ jail and one stroke of the cane. Fong is currently on trial.
Huang is still at large.