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Published: Friday January 10, 2014 MYT 12:20:01 PM
Updated: Friday January 10, 2014 MYT 12:21:20 PM

Singapore supermarket tycoon's mother abducted in rare kidnap case

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Two men were charged with kidnapping on Friday in Singapore after the elderly mother of a supermarket tycoon was abducted and held for ransom, a rare instance in a country that prides itself on its low crime rate.

Lim Hock Chee, founder and chief executive of Sheng Siong Group Ltd, said his mother, 79, was lured into a car on Wednesday morning by a man who said he had seen her son injured in a bad fall.

The kidnappers then called Lim and demanded a S$20 million ransom. After almost 12 hours of negotiations, Lim left S$2 million in a bag under a tree in a park, and his mother was then released in the early hours of Thursday morning.

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

The two men were arrested an hour after the victim's release, according to the Singapore Police Force and the money recovered. They were charged in court on Friday morning.

Lim is the 35th richest man in Singapore according to Forbes Singapore in 2013, with a net worth of S$654 million.

He established Sheng Siong in 1985 and it operates 33 stores. The company listed in August 2011 and is valued at S$835.33 million.

The kidnapping was only the fourth such case on the island in 13 years. Singapore, which provides for the death penalty or caning for certain offences, has some of the lowest crime rates in the world, with 581 cases of crime per 100,000 people, according to official figures.

"Kidnapping for ransom is very rare in Singapore, but is a very severe offence, which is punishable by life imprisonment or the death penalty," deputy commissioner of police Hoong Wee Teck said in a statement.

($1 = 1.2715 Singapore dollars)

(Reporting By Brian Leonal; Editing by Rachel Armstrong and Ron Popeski)

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