Kidnappers "undoubtedly target" Bernie Ecclestone as Formula 1 chief works to ensure the safety of mother-in-law

Newstalk Breakfast speaks to Brazil-based journalist Matt Sandy about the kidnapping

Kidnappers "undoubtedly target" Bernie Ecclestone as Formula 1 chief works to ensure the safety of mother-in-law

Image: Tony Marshall / PA Wire/Press Association Images

Efforts are continuing to secure the release of Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone's mother-in-law who was reportedly kidnapped in Brazil yesterday.

Aparecida Schunck was taken from her home in Interlagos, San Paolo, last Friday night, according to Brazilian news magazine Veja.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, Brazil-based journalist Matt Sandy gave an update on the situation.

"The police are investigating it but refusing to comment," he said. "What is strange is how rare a kidnapping case have emerged into the public domain like this. 

"Normally when these things happen, the kidnapping, the ransom payment and the release without anyone knowing about it. This case has emerged in the media and you can imagine Bernie Ecclestone will be working closely with the negotiators to ensure her safe release. But he at the moment is not talking publicly about it.

Sandy explained that although occurrences like this rarely happen, they are not uncommon.

"The statistics in Brazil indicate that there are a few dozen of these cases in São Paulo every year. It's not hugely common but when it does happen it does tend to relate to very high network individuals. That's been the trend, so the families of footballers etc. This does happen, but not that frequently.

The kidnappers are reportedly looking €33.1m, a ransom that seems unusually high for cases like these.

"It seems like a very large amount. The paper who reported on it claimed it was the biggest ever ransom sought in Brazil. They're looking at Bernie Ecclestone who is worth over €2bn and thinking what they can get away with. I suppose whether they end up with that amount is a different question.

"I think it was undoubtedly targeting Mr Ecclestone. I mean, she's from a middle-class family and her daughter was from a relatively modest means before she met Mr Ecclestone. The apartment they lived in up until a few years ago was relatively modest so I don't think anyone would be making great money out of these people. 

Ensuring the safe return of Ms. Schunck is of utmost concern to the authorities and Sandy says that situations like these rarely end badly. 

"Essentially never, as I said they are often not publicised. Nearly 100% of the time, the ransom gets paid. These are serious criminals you're dealing with but they're not IS and are not really in any way interested in causing harm."