Kidnapped Dutch millionaire's daughter freed

A Dutch millionaire daughter has been freed unharmed, Amsterdam police said Thursday.

Claudia Melchers, a 37-year-old mother of two, was kidnapped by gunmen from her home Monday by men wearing masks.

"Last night Claudia Melchers was released unharmed," a police statement said. "Other disclosures will be made at a press conference this afternoon."

Her father, Hans Melchers, had a personal fortune estimated at Ђ460 million (US$651 million), though it was not clear if a ransom was paid.

The assailants broke into Melchers' home in the Old South section of Amsterdam Monday, bound and gagged a friend and seized the woman. Her two young children were left unharmed.

Police said they had received nine useful tips from the public after a televised appeal late Tuesday by police commissioner Willem Woelders asking for information.

The abduction of Melchers' daughter revived news stories in the Dutch media about his past.

Hans Melchers is owner of Melchemie Holland BV, which had supplied chemicals to Iraq in the 1980s and was once fined for a shipment of banned chemicals, which it called a "one-time mistake."

Melchers' ex-wife, Anna Maria Lievens, was found dead at the bottom of the stairs of her home in Malta in 1999, apparently after a fall. Dutch media reported Lievens had contacted Dutch financial authorities alleging her husband's company sold chemicals to Iraq, Syria and Libya.

Hans Melchers has not commented publicly on the case.

Although kidnappings are rare in the Netherlands, they have happened often enough for Quote magazine to come under criticism for publishing its list of the country's wealthiest citizens. Melchers is number 36 on the list, reports the AP.

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