Loans for gambling behind Korean manager’s kidnapping

Posted on October 28, 2012

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Money loans for gambling and unpaid debts were behind the conflict between two Koreans involved in a kidnapping scheme in Cebu City that broke open Thursday.

The alleged mastermind and victim were former friends who frequented the Pagcor casino, according to the victim’s driver.

Police prepared kidnap-for-ransom charges againt 33-year-old Song Sunghen and his three local bodyguards but since the prosecutor’s office was closed for the holiday, the case will be filed on Monday.

Jun Hyung Chung, the Korean who was rescued by police on Thursday was described as a middle man of Korean casino players who need capital for placing bets, acording to Chung’s local driver of two years.

He said Sunghen was a frequent gambler while Chung was manager of the company engaged in money lending to Korean bettors.

The driver, who asked not to be named for security reasons, said both Koreans were friends and that Sunghen had lost millions in the casino using money borrowed from Chung.

Police arrested the suspects who were withdrawing part of a P600,000 ransom demand from a Citibank ATM account of Chung, who was handcuffed in a car with his girlfriend.

Chung’s girlfirend Charice Santiago denied an earlier police report that Chung owed P4 milliion to Sunghen. She told reporters that it was Sunghen who owed money to Chung.

Police earlier said Sunghen had ordered the kidnapping of the other Korean businessman and his live-in partner because he was trying to collect an unpaid P4 million debt.

The three arrested cohorts pointed to their Korean boss as the mastermind.

Sunghen was arrested on Thursday night by operatives of the Anti-Kidnapping Task Force and Ctiy Intelligence Branch (CIB) in the Mactan airport when he arrived from Korea.

A day earlier, Chung and his girlfriend were taken from their apartment in Lahug and made to ride a car for several hours through southern Cebu towns by three men acting on order of Sunghen.

Two of the three alleged abductors, cousins Richard and Gregorio Dealagdon, were identified as former bodyguards of retired Major Rico Palcuto.

Chung’s driver said he earlier noticed Richard in recent evenings roaming outside Chung’s residence as if he was conducting surveillance in recent days.

The driver said he remembered seeing the three Filipino suspects before at the casino because they previously worked with Palcuto who would lend money to casino players.

The three men were later fired the police offical and went to work as Sunghen’s bodyguards.
“Pirme man na sila sa casino kay body man na sila sa retired police official”, said Chung’s driver.

Chief Inspector Romeo Santander would not comment on the information from Chung’s driver and girlfriend. The chief of the City Intelligence Branch said only PNP chief Nicanor Bartolome or his spokesman could do so.

Sunghen is being held in the detention cell of the Tourist Police near Cebu City Hall.

His alleged cohorts Gregorio and Richard Dealagdon, and Leonard Bolalon were detained in the Cebu City Police Office stockade.

A fourth suspect, Wilfrefo Naval, reportedly an ex-military soldier remains at large. He was supposed to fetch Sunghen at the airport Thursday dawn but slipped away when he noticed the presence of the police.

An amount of P600,000 was demanded for Chung’s release.

Relatives in Korea were called to deposit money in Chung’s bank account for the payoff.

The three cohorts picked up the couple in their apartment before noon of Wednesday after pretending to be agents of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG-7).

The victims were made to ride a Toyota Vios sedan with the men. They were brought to barangay Busay, Balamban, Toledo City, Pinamungahan, Aloguinsan, Carcar and back to Cebu City.

When they returned to the city in the evening, the suspects were withdrawing P200,000 from a Citibank ATM dollar account of Chung. The couple remained handcuffed in the car.

Police traced the victims after Chung’s relatives asked the help of other Koreans in Cebu who turned to the police. Chung’s abductors earlier let him use his cellular phone to call relatives in Korea to deposit money for his release. /Chito O. Aragon, Correspondent
 

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