A 53-year-old woman, described in court as “second only to the mastermind” behind an extortion case involving two brothers who were kidnapped in Penang, was sentenced to seven years and six weeks’ jail yesterday.
In convicting Judy Wee of three counts of conspiring to extort US$250,000 (S$355,000) from the family members of Kenneth and Gabriel Ng in return for their release, District Judge Low Wee Ping chided her for putting the men’s father and Mr Kenneth Ng’s former fiance in “extreme mental anguish”.
“I do not know whether you realise how serious a crime of extortion is. Extortion plays on the minds of the victims, causing them mental anguish, (and causes) great public disquiet. This is why it carries a minimum punishment of two years’ imprisonment,” said the district judge.
Wee had initially disputed her charges, but had a change of heart before the trial was due to start on Tuesday.
Her alleged accomplice, Singapore permanent resident Fong Ling Ling, 46, is currently on trial for similar charges.
Another accomplice, Benjamin Ling Jialing, was jailed two years and given one stroke of the cane earlier this month.
A Chinese national known as “Huang Dng”, who is allegedly the mastermind, could not be traced and is believed to be based in China.
The court heard that Huang, Wee and Fong got acquainted with Mr Kenneth Ng through Ling.
Mr Ng, then 27, had agreed to help Huang in a currency transaction that involved exchanging the latter’s 25 million Venezuelan bolivars for S$1 million.
Mr Ng, Ling, Wee and Fong were each supposed to get a cut from the transaction, while Huang would keep the rest of the cash.
After Mr Ng found a Malaysian moneylender, “Ali”, who was supposed to facilitate the transaction, Mr Ng flew to Guangzhou to meet Huang on Feb 16 last year. However, Mr Ng fled home two days later after “Ali” failed to transfer the S$1 million to Huang’s designated account as agreed earlier.
Shortly after Mr Ng’s return, Wee and Huang contacted him and berated him for leaving China before the matter was resolved. They urged Mr Ng to go to Penang to help find “Ali”.
Mr Ng, accompanied by his younger brother, Gabriel, reached Penang by bus on Feb 22. Shortly after, three men bundled the brothers into a car and held them captive at a hotel.
Introducing themselves as debt collectors, the captors instructed Mr Kenneth Ng to pay US$250,000 in exchange for their release.
The next day, Wee, who was based in Singapore, made two calls to Mr Anthony Ng, the brothers’ father, and one to Mr Kenneth Ng’s then-fiancee, Ms Crystal Lim, informing them about the failed “currency transaction” and instructed them to hand over whatever they had raised thus far.
Wee specifically suggested that Mr Anthony Ng could “start by transferring US$50,000”, and also made arrangements with Lim on how the money was to be passed to her, the court was told.
Noting that Wee had offended while on a police supervision order for drug trafficking, the judge said: “Your crime is certainly not out of foolishness.”