182 arrested in island-wide anti-loanshark blitz

182 arrested in island-wide anti-loanshark blitz

SINGAPORE - The police have arrested a total of 182 suspects, aged between 16 and 77, in an island-wide anti-loansharking operation which took place from Aug 11 to 15.

During the 5-day operation, officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the six police land divisions conducted simultaneous raids at multiple locations in Singapore and arrested 126 men and 56 women, who were suspected to be involved in loansharking activities.

Preliminary investigations revealed that 165 suspects are believed to have facilitated loansharking activities by opening bank accounts and giving their Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN) to the loansharks.

Another 16 suspects are believed to be involved in loansharking activities as harassers, or as runners who carried out ATM transfers, verified debtors' particulars and checked debtors' units for successful harassment.

Police also arrested one suspect, believed to be a debtor who had given false contact information when taking loans from loansharks. The suspect will face investigations for failing to report the change of address.

Investigations against all the suspects are ongoing.

A person is presumed to have assisted in unlicensed moneylending when their bank account or ATM card is used in loansharking activities.

First-time offenders found guilty of assisting in the business of unlicensed moneylending will be fined between $30,000 and $300,000, imprisoned for up to four years and liable to be caned with up to six strokes.

First-time offenders found guilty of acting on behalf of an unlicensed moneylender, committing or attempting to commit any acts of harassment will be imprisoned for up to 5 years, fined between $5,000 and $50,000, and liable to be caned between 3 and 6 strokes.

Any person who is guilty of providing false contact information to obtain loans from loansharks will be imprisoned for up to 12 months. Under the National Registration Act, any person guilty of failing to report a change of address will be fined up to $5,000, or imprisoned for up to 5 years, or both.

minlee@sph.com.sg

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