112 arrested in anti-loanshark police operation

SINGAPORE - Police have arrested 112 suspects, 81 men and 31 women, in an islandwide anti-loansharking operation that took place from Aug 17 to 20.

According to the police, they are aged between 19 and 69.

During the four-day operation, officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and six police divisions conducted simultaneous raids at multiple locations in Singapore.

Preliminary investigations revealed that nine suspects are believed to be runners who had assisted the loansharks by carrying out automated teller machine (ATM) transfers or procuring ATM cards for the syndicates' usage.

Another three suspects are believed to be harassers who carried out acts of loanshark-harassment by splashing paint and scrawling loanshark-related graffiti on walls.

The police also said that the remaining 100 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 the suspects are ongoing.

First-time offenders found guilty of assisting in unlicensed moneylending may be fined between $30,000 and $300,000 and face a jail term of up to four years. They also face up to six strokes of the cane.

First-time offenders found guilty of acting on behalf of an unlicensed moneylender, committing or attempting to commit any acts of harassment may be jailed up to five years or face a fine between $5,000 and $50,000. They may also face three to six strokes of the cane.

Members of the public are advised by the police to stay away from loansharks and not to work with or assist the loansharks. 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.