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Saturday, May 25, 2024

DOJ: No kidnapping, only grave coercion

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“Let’s see how this case will be decided by the court and if it will serve the ends of justice”

WE’RE interested in how our judicial system will eventually decide on this particular case.

The Department of Justice issued a resolution last Feb. 27, 2024 on the complaint for kidnap-for-ransom and serious illegal detention filed by Chinese businessman Lin Xiaoqing, owner of an online gaming (POGO) company, Big Emperor Technology.

The subject of the complaint is his former business partner, Richard Lim, a Fil-Chinese owner of another POGO company, Xionwei Technology, as well as other local businesses.

 Lin, also known as ‘Eric Lim,’ filed his complaint last July 27, 2023. It took the DOJ seven months to issue its resolution on the complaint.

At first, Lin was actually hesitant in filing a complaint because he was aware of rumors that Lim had strong connections in government.

But he mustered enough courage and decided to file the charges against Lim on July 27, 2023.

That was nearly a year after he and his driver, he claimed, were abducted by armed men while on vacation at a beach resort in Batangas on Aug. 19, 2022.

The armed men turned out to be members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group who arrested Lin on the strength of a warrant of arrest for qualified theft issued by the Pasay City Regional Trial Court.

He was later detained at the CIDG facility in Taguig.

In its resolution, the DOJ seemed to have sided with Lim when it rejected Lin’s allegation he was kidnapped, he and his family were threatened with death and he was forced to pay a ransom of P100 million to Lim, plus the controlling share in his POGO company, Big Emperor Technology, in exchange for his release from CIDG custody last Sept. 14, 2022.

However, the DOJ also said while Lim may not be guilty of kidnapping as the predicates laid down by Lin failed to meet the requirements of the law, the accusations cannot be simply dismissed as demanded by Lim’s lawyer since, at the very least, he should be sued for grave coercion.

Part of the DOJ resolution stated: “(Even) if we find that respondent Lim may not be held liable for kidnapping, it is shown from the allegations in the complaint and supporting evidence that respondent Lim should be held liable for another crime.”

And that crime, the DOJ said, is grave coercion.

But how come the two former business partners ended up hurling serious accusations against each other? It all started in the aftermath of the Pharmally scandal and the personality behind it, Michael Yang.

It turned out that during Rodrigo Duterte’s “rapprochement” with China, Lin was among those from the mainland enticed to set up a business in the country. And the quickest way for a return on investment was through online gaming or POGO.

Convinced by Yang, Lin put up Big Emperor as a “third service provider” to Yang’s own company, Xionwei Technology.

However, when the Pharmally scandal broke out with Yang in the eye of the storm, he decided to let go of Xionwei and gave it to one of his partners, Richard Lim.

It was not clear from Lin’s affidavit as to when Yang turned over the control of Xionwei to Lim. What is clear is that Xionwei figured prominently in media in 2022.

News reports in September that year said the PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group chief, P/Col. Rodolfo Castil Jr. reported to PAGCOR chair Al Tengco that Xionwei was among the three Chinese POGOs under investigation for kidnapping, with the victims also Chinese nationals.

Since the DOJ resolution said Lin failed to lay the predicates for the kidnapping case to stick and that Lim should instead be probed for grave coercion, Lin still thanked the DOJ because, as he puts it, the resolution is already a “vindication” for him and his family honor.

Indeed, the DOJ’s decision not to throw out his complaint but to proceed with the court trial of Lim substantially proved most, if not all, that Lin narrated in his affidavit and the evidence he presented were not concocted or mere hearsay but the truth.

Lim is now out of jail after posting bail of P36,000 last April 15, and he is expected to be arraigned, with Lin also present, before Branch 115 of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Taguig next month.

Now let’s see how this case will be decided by the court and if it will serve the ends of justice. (Email: ernhil@yahoo.com)

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