SINGAPORE - Police have arrested a total of 101 suspects, aged between 18 and 72, in an anti-loansharking operation which took place between March 10 and 11. These 65 men and 36 women are suspected to have been involved in loansharking activities.
During the 39-hour operation, officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and six police land divisions conducted simultaneous raids at multiple locations in Singapore.
These locations include Choa Chu Kang, Admiralty Drive, Woodlands, Yishun, Ang Mo Kio, Serangoon, Toa Payoh, Macpherson, Simei, East Coast Road, Bedok and Tampines.
Preliminary investigations reveal that six suspects are believed to have been involved in loansharking activities as runners and had assisted the loansharks in their businesses by carrying out Automated Teller Machine (ATM) transfers or procuring ATM cards for the syndicates' use.
Police also arrested four suspects who are believed to have provided false contact information when obtaining loans from loansharks.
Investigations under National Registration Act will be carried out against these suspects for failing to report change of address.
The remaining 91 suspects are 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 a 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 may be fined between $30,000 and $300,000, be imprisoned for a term of up to four years and will also be liable to be punished with caning of up to 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 of up to 12 months.
Those found guilty of failing to report a change of address can be fined up to $5,000, imprisoned for up to five years, or both.
Members of public are advised to stay away from loansharks and not to work with or assist the loansharks in any way. The Police reminded members of the public that by opening or giving away one's bank account to unlicensed moneylenders, they are considered to have not only assisted the unlicensed moneylenders in their businesses but also facilitated them to evade Police detection.
"Police will not hesitate to take tough action against those who continue to assist loansharks in any way," the Police said.
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.