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 Monday.
Shih Chia-chin was picked up by chauffeur Hsieh Yuan-hsin upon his return to the northern airport of Taoyuan on August 18. Three hours later the accountant of Shih’s company received a phone call from kidnappers demanding a ransom of Tw$50 million ($1.7 million).
After negotiating with the kidnappers, Shih’s family wired Tw$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, 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.