Police have arrested a total of 113 suspects, aged between 15 and 72, in an anti-loansharking operation which took place from 23 to 26 September 2014. These 80 men and 33 women were suspected to be involved in loansharking activities.
During the island-wide operation, officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the six Police land divisions conducted simultaneous raids at multiple locations in Singapore resulting in the arrests. Preliminary investigations revealed that nine suspects were believed to be involved in loansharking activities as runners who had assisted the loansharks in their businesses by carrying out Automated Teller Machine (ATM) transfers, verifying the debtors’ particulars and checking debtors’ units to confirm that harassment acts had been carried out by other harassers. Another nine suspects were believed to be harassers who had carried out acts of loanshark-harassment by splashing paint and scrawling loanshark-related graffiti on walls. Police have also arrested one suspect, believed to be a debtor who had given false contact information when obtaining loans from loansharks. Investigations under the National Registration Act will be carried out against the same suspect for failing to report the change of address.
The remaining 94 suspects were believed to be bank account holders and preliminary investigations indicated that these suspects had opened bank accounts and given away their Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN) to the loansharks to facilitate the loansharking activities. Investigations against all the suspects are ongoing.
Under the Moneylenders’ Act (Revised Edition 2010), 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 the carrying on the business of unlicensed moneylending.
- First-time offenders found guilty of assisting in the business of unlicensed moneylending may be fined between $30,000 and $300,000, be imprisoned for a term of up to four years and shall also be liable to be punished with caning of up to six strokes.
- First-time offenders found guilty of acting on behalf of an unlicensed moneylender, committing or attempting to commit any acts of harassment shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of up to 5 years, a fine of between $5,000 and $50,000, and shall also be liable to caning of between 3 and 6 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. Under the National Registration Act, any person who is guilty of an offence of failing to report a change of address shall be liable on conviction to a fine of up to $5,000, or to imprisonment for a term of up to 5 years, or to both.
Police will continue to take tough enforcement action against those involved in the loansharking business, regardless of their roles, so that they will face the full brunt of the law. This would include taking action against those who open or give away their bank account/s to aid unlicensed moneylenders.
Members of public are advised 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.
PUBLIC AFFAIRS DEPARTMENT
SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE
26 SEP 2014 @ 3.25PM