The latest blitz was conducted by officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and all six police land divisions who launched simultaneous raids at multiple locations, netting 89 men and 38 women aged between 18 and 74. Police said 11 of the suspects were believed to have been harassers or runners who facilitated the loansharks' businesses by verifying debtors' particulars, procuring Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards and carrying out ATM transfers.
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Here is the statement from the Singapore Police Force:
In an island-wide anti-loansharking operation which took place between 20 and 23 May 2014, Police arrested a total of 127 suspects aged between 18 and 74. The 89 men and 38 women were suspected to be involved in loansharking activities.
During the operation, officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and all six Police land divisions conducted simultaneous raids at multiple locations in Singapore, resulting in the arrests. Preliminary investigations indicate that 11 suspects were believed to be involved in loansharking activities as harassers, or as runners who facilitated the loansharks in their businesses by verifying debtors' particulars, procuring Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards and carrying out ATM transfers.
Police also arrested three suspects who were believed to have provided false contact information when obtaining loans from loansharks, resulting in the innocent house owners being harassed. Investigations under the National Registration Act will also be carried out against these suspects for failing to report their change of address. The remaining 113 suspects were believed to have opened bank accounts and given away their ATM cards and Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) to loansharks to facilitate their unlicensed moneylending businesses. Investigations against all the suspects are ongoing.
Under the Moneylenders' Act (Revised Edition 2010), when a bank account or ATM card of any person is used to facilitate moneylending by an unlicensed moneylender, that person is presumed to have assisted in the carrying on the business of unlicensed moneylending.
- First-time offenders found guilty of assisting in the business of unlicensed moneylending may be fined between $30,000 and $300,000, be imprisoned for a term of up to four years and shall also be liable to be punished with caning of 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 shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of up to 5 years, a fine of between $5,000 and $50,000, and shall also be liable to caning of between 3 and 6 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 of up to 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 fine of up to $5,000, or to imprisonment for a term of up to 5 years, or to both.
Members of public are advised to stay away from loansharks and not to work with or assist loansharks in any way. The public can call the Police at '999' or the X-Ah Long hotline at 1800 924 5664 if they suspect or know of anyone who could be involved in illegal loansharking activities.