Last week, block chain expert and business entrepreneur, Mr Mark Cheng Jin Quan, aged 33, and his associate Mr Kim Lee Yao Wei, 31 embarked on a one day business trip to Thailand.
However, there was a hidden surprise in the trip waiting to unfold as Mr Kim, who organized the trip had ulterior motives.
Upon arriving at the Suvarnabumi airport in Thailand, the business associates were said to have taken a taxi to a petrol station on Suwintawong Road to use the restroom and buy groceries. As they came out of the gas station several masked men, waiting inside a black pickup truck that was parked at the station jumped out grabbing both of them.
Mr Mark, speaking to Thai police later, said he was blindfolded and forced to drink something that tasted like orange juice which numbed his lips but kept him conscious all the while.
Mr Mark recognized the vehicle which was used to kidnap him as owned by a Thai German actor, Mr Chano Pemberger, whom he met once at a mutual friend’s birthday party in Thailand, some time ago.
For 12 hours, the captors allegedly took him to four locations in forested areas, where he was bound to a chair and repeatedly tortured and also subjected to electrocution. The captors then demanded the Singapore businessman to handover of US$500,000 (S$674,000) in Bitcoin as ransom.
Mr Mark pleaded for his life and tried to convince his captors that he was not as wealthy and could only pay 1.4 million baht (S$62,300) that he and his friends owned in Bitcoin.
Unconvinced, they took him to a deserted paddy field where they held a gun to his head and demanded for more.
There, despite his own misery, Mr Mark asked his abductees of the whereabouts of his friend, Mr Kim.
His questions went unanswered.
A Chinese evening daily, Lianhe Wanbo, reported Mr Mark as saying that while being held at gun point, heard sounds of shoveling of what presumably could be a grave for him. He was convinced that he was going to be buried alive.
However, mustering the courage from within, Mr Mark managed to loosen the strings which bound his wrists and knocked the gun out of the assailant’s hand before punching them and fleeing.
A concerned motorcyclist passing by gave the Singapore businessman a lift to a police station at Nakhon Nayok province where a report was lodged.
According to a spokesman of the Royal Thai Police, Colonel Krisana Pattanacharoe, investigations showed that it was Mr Kim who orchestrated the whole ordeal with three others.
Meanwhile, Mr Kim, was arrested on Sunday with charges of robbery, detention of others, physical assault and illegal possession of firearms, has since confessed to all charges. At the same time, police are investigating Mr Chano’s involvement in this.
The Police say they were able to recover a sum of 1.2 million baht (S$53,364.12) in the bank account belonging to Mr. Kim’s Thai girlfriend, which accordingly were proceeds of the sale from Mr Mark’s bitcoins. Police Major General, Chakrit Sawasdee affirmed that subsequently the money recovered was returned to Mr Mark.
However, in a report by Strait Times, Mr Mark is said to have denied receipt of the recovered sum.
Quoted in ST, Mark laments that “I don’t think I want to come back here (to Thailand) again,”.
Mr Mark is said to be leaving Thailand either today or Friday.
Nonetheless, he may return to Thailand to testify at Lee’s trial some months later.