Brazil police free kidnapped mother-in-law of F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone

File photo taken in September 2014 in Singapore shows Formula One boss Bernie Eccleston (left) and his wife, Fabiana Flosi.
File photo taken in September 2014 in Singapore shows Formula One boss Bernie Eccleston (left) and his wife, Fabiana Flosi.PHOTO: AFP

SAO PAULO (REUTERS) - Brazilian law enforcement agents stormed a hideout near Sao Paulo on Sunday (July 31) and freed the kidnapped mother-in-law of Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone, police said.

Madam Aparecida Schunk was found safe and police arrested two men.

Sao Paulo's Anti-Kidnap squad "freed the mother-in-law of Bernie Ecclestone," police said in a one-paragraph statement. "She was unharmed. Two men were arrested at the hideout near the city of Cotia. The operation continues."

Sao Paulo police did not comment further on the operation or the kidnapping. But local news reports said they were searching for other members of the gang.

Madam Schunk, 67, was kidnapped on July 22 and her captors asked for 120 million reais (S$49.5 million), according to reports in a leading Brazilian news magazine.

She is the mother of Ms Fabiana Flosi, a 38-year old marketing executive who met Mr Ecclestone at the 2009 Brazilian Grand Prix.

Mr Ecclestone, whom Forbes magazine estimates - along with his family - is worth US$3.1 billion (S$4.2 billion) and is one of the most powerful men in sport, married Ms Flosi in 2012.

The 85-year-old divorced his wife of 25 years, Croatian model Slavica Radic, in order to marry the young Brazilian. The couple live in Britain.

Kidnapping was common in Brazil a decade ago, with several people seized each day, often for sums of just a few hundred dollars.

A crackdown by police, including the formation of a special anti-kidnap division, reduced the number considerably, and the crime has become much rarer.

Brazil is currently in the midst of its worst economic crisis in almost a century.