SINGAPORE - Police have arrested five people, aged between 15 and 43, believed to be involved in loanshark activities in three separate cases.
In the first case, on March 15, occupants of a house at Dover Crescent found their main gate locked with a bicycle lock and made a police report. The police managed to establish the identity of three teenagers involved, and arrested two girls and one boy aged 15 to 18 on March 25 at about 1pm near Tao Ching Road and Toa Payoh Central.
Preliminary investigations revealed that the teenagers were not debtors but were lured by the fast cash earned. They had helped an unlicensed moneylender to harrass debtors by locking up their gates with bicycle locks. The teenagers are believed to have conducted similar activities in Pandan Gardens, Jurong West and Teck Whye housing estates.
In the second case, officers arrested a 43-year-old suspect at Clementi Avenue 5 on March 25 at about 1.30 pm. Preliminary investigations indicated that the suspect, who is a debtor, had assisted the loanshark syndicates by collecting Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards from other debtors and also performed electronic fund transactions via ATM. A total of seven ATM cards, $1,250 cash, two small note books, some bank transaction receipts, one mobile phone and a pre-paid card were seized for investigations.
In the third case, a 40-year-old woman was arrested at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5 on March 25 at about 3.45 pm. She is believed to be a debtor who had used a false residential address to obtain illegal loans from loansharks. This has caused the occupants of her previous address to be harassed by loansharks. She is also being investigated for failing to report the change of her residential address under the National Registration Act.
The 18-year-old male suspect in the first case will be charged in Court on March 27 while investigations against the other two suspects in the first case are on-going.
Under the Moneylenders Act (Revised Edition 2010), first-time offenders found guilty of any acts of loanshark harassment shall be punished with a jail term not exceeding five years, a fine between $5,000 and $50,000, and shall also be liable to between three and six strokes of cane.
As for the suspect in the second and third cases, investigations against them are also on-going.
Under the Moneylenders Act 2010 (Revised Edition):
- First-time offenders found guilty of assisting in the carrying on of the business of an unlicensed moneylender, may be fined between $30,000 and $300,000, be imprisoned for a term not exceeding four years and shall also be liable to be punished with caning of not more than six strokes
- Any person who is guilty of providing false contact information to obtain loans from loansharks shall be liable upon conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months. Under the National Registration Act, any person who is guilty of an offence of failing to report a change of address shall be liable on conviction to a maximum fine of $5,000 or a maximum jail term of 5 years or to both.