16 arrested in police crackdown of loanshark syndicate

SINGAPORE - In a 12-hour island-wide operation against a loanshark syndicate conducted between Nov 26 and 27, 2013, police arrested 14 men and 2 women, aged between 24 and 61 years, for their suspected involvement in loansharking activities.

Following extensive ground intelligence and investigation, officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and Police Intelligence Department conducted raids at multiple locations including Jurong, Woodlands, Marsiling, Yishun, Hougang, Toa Payoh, Boon Keng, Kallang, Tampines and Pasir Ris, which resulted in the arrests.

During the operation, items such as cash amounting to more than $8,200, mobile phones, Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards, and internet banking device, as well as an assortment of loansharking-related paraphernalia such as bank transaction slips, notebook and paper records were seized as case exhibits.

The suspects are believed to be part of a loanshark syndicate and were involved in siphoning crime proceeds linked to unlicensed moneylending activities out of Singapore, carrying out ATM transfers, distributing flyers promoting illegal loan facilities and giving away their bank accounts to facilitate their unlicensed moneylending business.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the syndicate is believed to be responsible for more than 340 loanshark harassment cases island-wide.

Eight of the suspects will be charged in court. Investigations against the remaining eight suspects are ongoing.

Any person found guilty of operating or assisting in the operating of a loansharking business may be fined not less than $30,000 and up to $300,000 with mandatory imprisonment of up to four years and shall also be liable to caning of up to six strokes.

Head of the Unlicensed Moneylending Strikeforce of CID, Superintendent of Police Aileen Yap, commended the officers for the successful operation. She said, "Police are determined in clamping down hard on loanshark syndicates. We will ensure that perpetrators, who continue to assist the loansharks and disrupt the community's sense of safety and well-being, face the fullest brunt of the law. "

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 X-Ah Long hotline at 1800-924-5664 if they have useful information on loansharking activities, or call '999' for urgent cases such as when witnessing acts of loanshark harassment in progress.