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Hong Kong, city of riches, also known for high-profile kidnapping

The most well-known kidnappings in the city’s recent history were the abductions of Li Ka-shing’s son Victor Li Tzar-kuoi (left) in 1996, and billionaire Walter Kwok Ping-sheung (centre), the former chairman of Sun Hung Kai Properties, in 1997. Both were carried out by notorious crime king “Big Spender” Cheung Tze-keung (right). Photos: Edward Wong, Paul Yeung, SCMP

While Hong Kong is known for its tycoons and billionaires, it is also no stranger to kidnappings, such as the one that led to a huge manhunt on Wednesday.

As of Wednesday afternoon, police were still searching for six kidnappers who fled with HK$28 million in ransom money after they abducted a 29-year-old woman from a home in Sai Kung. It was the latest in a long string of high-profile kidnappings in the city’s recent history.

Probably the most well-known were the abductions of Li Ka-shing’s son Victor Li Tzar-kuoi in 1996, and billionaire Walter Kwok Ping-sheung, the former chairman of Sun Hung Kai Properties, in 1997. Both were carried out by notorious crime king “Big Spender” Cheung Tze-keung.

Victor Li, tied up, blindfolded and gagged, was released after a HK$1 billion ransom was paid to the abductors. Kwok was set free after paying a Cheng cohort HK$600 million after initial refusal to hand over any ransom.

In an interview with mainland media in 2013, Li Ka-shing revealed that the gangsters showed up in his residence in Deep Water Bay, demanding HK$2 billion. Li told Cheung he only had enough cash to pay HK$1 billion then, but he “can go to the bank and withdraw the rest.”

The tycoon did not file a police report and said Cheung later called him to ask how he should spend the money.

Kwok was abducted on his way home on September 26, 1997, more than one year after Li’s release. He was blindfolded and taken to a hut in the New Territories. After his refusal to call his family to prepare the ransom, Kwok was stripped to his underwear, beaten and forced into a makeshift wooden cage.

Kwok was finally released seven days into his abduction after paying HK$600 million.

In a court hearing last October, Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong, Kwok’s brother, told the court that his brother developed post-traumatic stress disorder after the kidnapping and became “highly suspicious” and “paranoid”.

Cheung, the mastermind of both abductions, was executed in Guangdong in 1998. Cheung was sentenced to death by a Guangzhou court along with four other gang members.

In another high-profile abduction case, Libyan dissident Sami al-Saadi and his family were kidnapped in Hong Kong in 2004, flown to Libya and handed to authorities there.

Most recently, an Indian businessman, his lawyer and bank manager were kidnapped within hours of their arrival in the city in October, 2013, after they were lured to Hong Kong to take part in a bogus property deal.

The three men were held at gunpoint for three days by a gang armed with firearms and choppers. They were released, without paying the HK$19 million ransom demanded, after the abductors discovered they had been tailed by police.

In November of the same year, a debt-ridden Indian businessman faked his own kidnapping in Hong Kong and tried to extract a US$10,000 ransom from his family. The man was jailed for two weeks by Kowloon City Court.

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 April, 2015, 4:48pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 April, 2015, 5:35pm
Kathy Gao
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