Vietnam stockbroker accused of kidnapping girlfriend to pay debts

Japan to resume development aid to Vietnam despite scandalHanoi - Police in Ho Chi Minh City have arrested a stockbroker and two accomplices on charges of kidnapping the man's girlfriend to pay for his stock market losses, a police official said Thursday.

"He lost a lot of money on the stock market, so he kidnapped his girlfriend for ransom to pay his debts," said Mai Van Tan, director of Ho Chi Minh City's Department of Social Order Crime Investigation.

Stockbroker Luc Van Hien, 29, who surrendered to police Wednesday, had been engaged to the daughter of a wealthy female client, the newspaper Thanh Nien reported.

Hien's own stock investments, apparently made with borrowed money, had lost value, and he then allegedly asked his elder brother Luc Van Chung, 33, and his friend Cao Thinh, 35, to help kidnap his girlfriend.

The trio is accused of abducting her at a bogus meeting they set up April 16 while mascarading as a potential corporate client for her company's interior decorating services, Tan said.

She was taken to Hien and Chung's mother's house in a neighbouring province, and her mother was phoned and told to pay 3 billion dong (17,000 dollars) if she wanted her daughter back alive.

Initially, the mother asked Tien for advice and he encouraged her to pay the ransom and not to inform police, the police official said.

But the kidnappers failed to turn up at the first two appointed meetings, and when the mother was unable to attend a third rendezvous on April 17, a relative decided to inform the police.

Police said that after Hien learned they were searching for his girlfriend, he ordered his accomplices to release her. Then, fearing his role would be discovered, Hien turned himself in Wednesday and was arrested. The other two accomplices followed suit.

Investors have lost vast sums since Vietnam's stock market bubble popped in 2007. The VN-Index fell 65 per cent in 2008, dropping to a low of 235, after peaking at 1,174 in March 2007. (dpa)