Australia billionaire's advisor held in kidnapping probe

Australia billionaire's advisor held in kidnapping probe
In this file photo taken on October 10, 2013 Australian mining billionaire and leader of the Palmer United Party (PUP) Clive Palmer speaks during a press conference in Sydney.

SYDNEY - A key advisor to flamboyant Australian mining billionaire and politician Clive Palmer was arrested on Friday, reportedly over the alleged kidnapping of a bank employee on an Indonesian island.

Andrew Crook, Palmer's media spokesman and confidante, was detained during a raid in Brisbane, the tycoon confirmed to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"I don't know what the allegations are. I know nothing about it," he said in confirming Crook was being held.

The Queensland Police Service said only that two men have been arrested as part of an investigation by their Taskforce Maxima criminal economy team.

"The charges stem from an elaborate scheme which police will allege was planned partly in Queensland with key elements executed in Singapore and Indonesia before returning to Queensland where the offences were committed," they said in a statement.

A warrant for the arrest of a third man was also issued, reportedly a multi-millionaire property developer.

The ABC reported that police will allege Crook and another man were involved in an attempt to coerce a witness in a Aus$70 million (US$57 million) civil case, using subterfuge and threats of violence.

It said they were investigating claims the witness, an employee of the National Australia Bank, was lured to Singapore and on to Batam Island in Indonesia using the pretence of a possible job offer from Palmer.

Police will allege that once on Batam Island, the witness was strip-searched, threatened and forced to make a statement recanting his evidence, the broadcaster reported.

Palmer, whose party wields crucial balance-of-power votes in the upper house Senate, is not thought to have had any involvement in, or knowledge of the plot.

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