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Kidnapped Hong Kong tycoon rescued in Taiwan

Taipei – A kidnapped Hong Kong tycoon has been freed in a dramatic rescue after he was held captive for more than a month by criminals who demanded a $9m ransom, Taiwan authorities said on Wednesday.

Wong Yuk-kwan, also known as Wong Kwan, the chairperson of Hong Kong-listed Pearl Oriental Oil exploration company, was found manacled and beaten up on Tuesday in a village in western Taiwan after being abducted outside the capital Taipei on September 20, according to authorities.

Television footage of the rescue operation showed the 67-year-old looking scrawny and frightened as he sat on the floor of a barren room with his feet cuffed.

His faced was bruised and he was clutching his legs, which were covered in cuts.

Fifteen people were arrested over the abduction, including a man suspected of masterminding the kidnapping, according to the authorities.

“They sent an e-mail requesting a ransom of HK$70m (US$9m),” an official from New Taipei City police told AFP.

“We are assisting the Hong Kong police with the investigation on their end as well,” he said, adding that no ransom was paid.

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His company was unavailable for comment when contacted by AFP.

The businessman, who according to Taiwan media reports was in Taipei for medical treatment, was charged in Hong Kong along with three other Pearl Oriental Oil executives in 2013 for fraud and money laundering relating to the acquisition of an oil field in the United States.

Two defendants were found guilty earlier this year and sentenced to seven years and five years in jail respectively.

Wong’s trial has not yet concluded.

Pearl Oriental Oil’s main business is oil and gas exploration and the company is valued at HK$957m. Its main asset is an oilfield in Utah, according to its website.

Hong Kong has a long history of kidnap targeting high-profile members of the business community.

In April, a Hong Kong textiles heiress was abducted and released three days later, after her family paid her captors a ransom of HK$28m.

Nine people were arrested over the abduction after Hong Kong authorities launched a massive operation to hunt down the suspected kidnappers.

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