118 people arrested in island-wide anti-loansharking operation

The police have arrested 83 men and 35 women aged between 18 and 68, in an islandwide anti-loansharking operation that took place between Tuesday and Friday.
The police have arrested 83 men and 35 women aged between 18 and 68, in an islandwide anti-loansharking operation that took place between Tuesday and Friday.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE- The police have arrested 83 men and 35 women aged between 18 and 68, in an islandwide anti-loansharking operation that took place between Tuesday and Friday.

During the operation, officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the six Police Land Divisions conducted simultaneous raids at multiple locations in Singapore.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the police said that investigations showed that eight suspects are believed to be runners who had assisted the loansharks in their businesses by carrying out Automated Teller Machine (ATM) transfers or procuring ATM cards for the syndicates' usage.

Three others are believed to be harassers who had carried out acts of loanshark harassment by splashing paint and scrawling loanshark-related graffiti on walls. Police also arrested one suspect who was believed to have provided false contact information when obtaining loans from loansharks. Investigations under the National Registration Act will be carried out against the suspect for failing to report the change of address.

The remaining 106 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 the business of unlicensed moneylending may be fined between $30,000 and $300,000, be jailed for up to four years and may be caned up to six times.

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

Any person who is guilty of providing false contact information to obtain loans from loansharks may be jailed for up to a year. Under the National Registration Act, any person who is guilty of an offence of failing to report a change of address faces a fine of up to $5,000, up to five years in jail, or both.

jalmsab@sph.com.sg