118 people arrested in islandwide anti-loansharking operation

118 suspects believed to have carried out loansharking activities have been arrested in an islandwide anti-loansharking operation.
118 suspects believed to have carried out loansharking activities have been arrested in an islandwide anti-loansharking operation.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The police have arrested 118 suspects for loansharking activities in a four-day islandwide operation that ended on Thursday (March 24).

The 79 men and 39 women, aged between 21 and 71, were nabbed by officers from the Criminal Investigation Department and six police land divisions, who conducted simultaneous raids at multiple locations in Singapore.

In a statement issued on Thursday, police said that preliminary investigations showed that three suspects are believed to be runners, who assisted loansharks in their business by carrying out Automated Teller Machine (ATM) transfers.

Another suspect is believed to be a harasser, who carried out acts of loanshark harassment by splashing paint and scrawling loanshark-related graffiti on walls.

Police also arrested a suspect who is believed to have provided false contact information when obtaining loans from loansharks. The suspect will be investigated under the National Registration Act for failing to report the change of address.

The remaining 113 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.

The police said it "will continue to take tough enforcement action against those involved in the loansharking business, regardless of their roles, and they will face the full brunt of the law".

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.