111 nabbed for loansharking activities

PHOTO: ST

SINGAPORE - Police have arrested 111 suspects, 77 men and 34 women aged between 15 and 68, in an anti-loansharking operation that took place between Sep 28 and Oct 1.

According to a statement by the police, investigations revealed that one suspect is believed to have carried out unlicensed moneylending and 15 suspects are believed to be runners who had assisted the loansharks in their businesses. They did so by carrying out Automated Teller Machine (ATM) transfers or procuring ATM cards for the syndicates' usage.

Another four suspects are believed to be harassers who had splashed paint and scrawled loanshark-related graffiti on walls.

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, 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 carrying on the business of unlicensed moneylending.

First-time offenders found guilty of assisting in unlicensed moneylending may be fined between $30,000 and $300,000, be imprisoned for up to four years and also be caned up to six strokes.

Those found guilty of acting on behalf of an unlicensed moneylender, committing or attempting to commit any acts of harassment may be punished with a jail term of up to five years, a fine of between $5,000 and $50,000, and face between three and six strokes of the cane.

Any person found guilty of providing false contact information to obtain loans from loansharks may also be jailed 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 may be fined up to $5,000, face a jail term of up to five years, or both.

The police advise members of the public to stay away from loansharks and not to work with or assist the 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.

stephluo@sph.com.sg

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