Jailed for aiding loan sharks

Jailed for aiding loan sharks

Facing financial difficulties over his housing loan and printing business, Goh Peng Chai borrowed $2,000 from a moneylender advertised in the papers.

In return for an extension on his loan deadline, he later printed 340,000 name cards and 40,000 fliers for his creditor and two others. But all three turned out to be loan sharks.

Last Friday, the 55-year-old, who had been convicted on 10 charges of helping loan sharks, lost his appeal and will have to serve a jail term of two months and pay a fine of $300,000.

Justice Choo Han Teck, in his judgment grounds released on Wednesday, rejected Goh's argument that he believed he had been dealing with legitimate moneylenders since he found the service through a newspaper advertisement.

Instead, the judge upheld the district court's finding that he was an "experienced businessman" who had taken out loans before and should have been aware of how legitimate moneylenders operated. He also disagreed with Goh's argument that he was merely a printer and had not actually assisted the loan sharks.

The judge added that in cases where someone was charged with assisting unlicensed moneylenders, the factors for determining the "nature and extent" of assistance given included: how close an offender was to the loan shark's business, the capacity in which he assisted, and how much his help actually contributed to the operation.

Goh, who has to look after a young daughter because his wife lives overseas, ran a printing business called Speedy Print.

Some time in January 2011, he ran into financial problems. Unable to get a bank loan, he responded to an advertisement in The New Paper.

He dialled the number listed and spoke to a man known as "Ben", who offered him a $2,000 loan at an interest rate of 20 per cent, after asking for his personal particulars and employment status.

The money was transferred into Goh's bank account, with weekly repayments to be made. A week after taking the loan, Goh found that he could not keep up with the instalments.

So in exchange for an extension, he agreed to print business cards for "Ben" and two others, and at the market rate for "Ben". He later borrowed another $5,000 from the other two men.

First-time offenders found guilty of assisting unlicensed moneylenders face a maximum penalty of $300,000 in fines, four years in jail and six strokes of the cane.

pohian@sph.com.sg


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