China-based loan shark jailed for four years

China-based loan shark jailed for four years

A LOAN shark belonging to a transnational syndicate was sentenced to four years' jail and fined $600,000 yesterday for running an unlicensed moneylending stall from China and helping a loan shark here perform electronic fund transfers.

Ken Lee Jung Huat, 39, pleaded guilty to 20 charges, with 40 others taken into consideration during his sentencing.

District Judge Siva Shanmugam said the offences involved "meticulous planning and premeditation". He noted the amounts involved, the number of charges and the duration of the offences, and said Lee's "active participation was crucial and significant".

Deputy Public Prosecutor Kenneth Kee said that Lee, a debtor-turned-runner, was offered a job in 2009 by an unlicensed moneylender, known as Ah Heng, to operate a stall in China with a $1,500 monthly wage as well as 30 per cent of profits earned.

He flew to Hong Kong and met Ah Heng, who taught him how to run the business. After a few months, Lee moved to Zhuhai, China, where he actively ran the unlicensed moneylending stall until his arrest in Singapore on Feb 4 last year.

Over the years, Lee would either rely on Ah Heng to provide runners or hire his own to collect loan repayments in Singapore. Between mid-2010 and late January last year, Lee helped Ah Heng maintain his business by using his ATM card to perform electronic fund transfers on his behalf.

In his submissions, DPP Kee said a strong deterrent message was necessary for unlicensed moneylending offences, given Singapore's zero-tolerance policy for such activities and their harmful effects.

"The transnational and syndicated nature of such groups makes it extremely difficult... to apprehend the leaders of syndicates, like the accused," he said.

In a similar case heard earlier this year, another Singaporean based in Zhuhai, Alvin Zhuo Zhongwei, 31, was sentenced to six years' jail, fined $680,000 and given six strokes of the cane on 17 charges of unlicensed moneylending and one of instructing a runner to commit acts of harassment.


This article was first published on May 9, 2015.
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