Big push against loan sharks

SINGAPORE - The police have waged a massive campaign against loan sharks and unlicensed moneylending in recent years.

There are hotlines to help loan shark runners get out, community-based campaigns to weed them out and multiple arrests to cripple syndicates.

The work has been long and hard, but it seems to be bearing fruit.

In just seven months this year, 750 people have been arrested in association with illegal moneylending activities.

The efforts by the police in fighting unlicensed moneylending (UML) appears to be yielding positive results. The number of harassment cases has fallen significantly by 24 per cent last year - 8,988 cases, down from 11,776 case in 2011.

But the battle continues as the number of people arrested for unlicensed money lending and harassment activities last year remained high at 1,903, against 1,981 arrested in 2011.

Some of police initiatives include the X-Ah-Long Hotline (1800-924 5664) set up by the National Crime Prevention Council to receive UML-related information anonymously from the public.

In March, the Singapore Police Force launched the Community Safety and Security Programme combating UML. It aimed to strengthen the police-community collaboration in combating UML through the following three-pronged approach: awareness, prevention and support.

As part of the event, a set of anti-UML lift decals were placed at more than 400 HDB lift lobbies across Singapore.

The punishment for assisting a loan shark carries a fine of up to $500,000, up to five years in jail, and up to 12 strokes of the cane.

For abetting acts of harassment, one can be jailed for up to nine years, fined up to $60,000 and given up to six strokes of the cane.


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