Singapore charges two over tycoon mother's kidnapping

image source, Photo courtesy of Singapore Police Force
image captionThe ransom paid for the return of Mr Lim's mother was recovered by police

A Singapore court has charged two men in connection with the kidnapping of a supermarket tycoon's mother.

The 79-year-old mother of Lim Hock-chee, founder of the Sheng Siong chain, was abducted on Wednesday and a ransom of S$20m ($16m, £9.7m) sought.

She was freed on Thursday after Mr Lim left S$2m under a tree in a park.

The two men, aged 41 and 50, were arrested and the ransom recovered soon after the release. Kidnap for ransom is rare in the city-state.

Mr Lim said his mother, identified in local media as Ng Lye-poh, was walking home from the market when she was approached by a man, told that her son had been injured in a fall and lured into a car.

Mr Lim initially thought the call asking for ransom was a prank. He was able to negotiate down the ransom from S$20m to S$2m.

"This was a very scary experience, every minute was in fear," he said in a video posted on the website of the Singapore Straits Times newspaper.

image source, Photo courtesy of Singapore Police Force
image captionPolice say that the two suspects are Singaporean Chinese

He added that he was happy and relieved to see his mother safe.

The suspects, who police say are two Singaporean Chinese men, appeared in court on Friday.

Ms Ng's kidnapping is only the fourth such case in 13 years in Singapore, which has a reputation for a low crime rate, according to reports.

"In this particular case, and the few that were solved several years ago, we are grateful that families of victims remained calm and composed, alerted police without delay, and cooperated fully with us so that investigations could be conducted and swift action taken from the onset," Deputy Police Commissioner Hoong Wee-teck, said in a statement on Thursday.

The Sheng Siong supermarket chain, which has at least 33 branches, earned S$637.3m in revenue in 2012, according to their website.

Mr Lim, 51, and his brothers founded the chain in 1985 after they decided to close their pig farm. He is Singapore's 35th richest man, with a net worth of $S515m, according to the Forbes magazine website.

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