Wanted man flees Singapore but is kidnapped instead

Money mule Andrew Yeo crossed the Causeway on his motorbike with the ransom money in his possession, and deliberately failed to report it when he passed through Woodlands Checkpoint.
Money mule Andrew Yeo crossed the Causeway on his motorbike with the ransom money in his possession, and deliberately failed to report it when he passed through Woodlands Checkpoint.PHOTO: BH FILE

A man who was wanted for cheating in Singapore sought help from a member of a human trafficking syndicate to flee the country.

But he 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 ransom across the Causeway.

Yesterday, the money mule, Andrew Yeo, 27, was sentenced to six months' jail after pleading guilty.

The court heard that on Aug 17, 2017, Goh Chun Kiat, 41, left Singapore by sea for 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, he contacted 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 on Aug 17, 2017, the kidnappers took him to a bungalow at an undisclosed location, where they demanded $550,000, and restrained and then physically assaulted him.

The kidnappers called Goh's family that evening and they agreed on an $80,000 ransom.

Yeo was tasked by one of the kidnappers to take the cash from Singapore to Johor Baru.

He agreed to do so, even though his suspicions were raised by the nature of the request and the fact that it was after midnight.

He crossed the Causeway on his motorbike, with the ransom in his possession, and deliberately failed to report it at the Woodlands Checkpoint. He then handed over the cash to his friend in Malaysia.

Goh's father lodged a police report at about 5.20pm on Aug 18.

"Yeo's deliberate actions allowed the kidnappers to be united with the fruits of their crime," said Deputy Public Prosecutor Andre Chong.

Court papers said one of the kidnappers is wanted by the authorities, while three others are in Malaysia. It is not known what happened to two remaining kidnappers.

Goh has been charged with various offences, and his case is pending. Yeo is out on bail and will start his sentence next Thursday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 23, 2019, with the headline 'Wanted man flees S'pore but is kidnapped instead'. Print Edition | Subscribe