SINGAPORE - A man who was wanted for cheating in Singapore sought help from a member of a human trafficking syndicate to flee the country, but ended up being kidnapped by the trafficker and his friends in Malaysia.
The six kidnappers extorted $80,000 from the man's family in Singapore, and arranged for a money mule to transport the amount across the Causeway.
On Friday (March 22), the money mule Andrew Yeo, 27, was sentenced to six months' jail after pleading guilty.
The court heard that on August 17 2017, Goh Chun Kiat, 41 departed from Singapore by sea to Malaysia.
Goh was arrested in April that year by the Commercial Affairs Department in connection with a number of cheating offences.
While out on bail, Mr Goh contacted a 33-year-old Malaysian James Ng, to facilitate his illegal departure, said court documents.
"Unbeknownst to the victim, James subsequently entered into a criminal conspiracy with Chris to kidnap the victim in Malaysia, and thereafter to extort ransom monies from the victim's family," said court documents. "Chris" was a reference to one of the kidnappers, Malaysian Tan Kin Onn, 27.
When Goh arrived in Malaysia, the kidnappers brought him to a bungalow at an undisclosed location where they demanded $550,000, restrained and then physically assaulted him.
The kidnappers called Goh's family in the evening of August 17 to negotiate the ransom amount, before finally agreeing upon $80,000.
They collected the ransom at about 12.15am the next day from Goh's father at Woodlands Checkpoint.
Yeo then was tasked by one of the kidnappers to bring the cash from Singapore into Johor Bahru.
He agreed to transport the money, even though his suspicions were raised by the nature of the request and the fact that it was after midnight .
"He knew that something was wrong and did not want to inquire further," said court documents.
Yeo crossed the causeway on his motorbike with the ransom in his possession, and deliberately failed to report it when he passed through Woodlands Checkpoint. He then handed the sum over to his friend in Malaysia.
Goh's father lodged a police report at about 5.20 pm later that day (Aug 18).
"Yeo's deliberate actions allowed the kidnappers to be united with the fruits of their crime", said Deputy Public Prosecutor Andre Chong.
Mr Ng is currently wanted by the authorities , while Mr Tan and two other kidnappers are in Malaysia. Court documents did not state what happened to another two kidnappers from Singapore.
Goh has been charged and his case is pending in court.
Yeo is currently out on bail and will serve his sentence on March 28.
For not reporting the the movement of cash above the prescribed amount, Yeo could have been jailed for three years and fined up to $50,000.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.