SINGAPORE - An island-wide police operation that took place over four days last week has resulted in the arrest of 90 suspects for their involvement in loansharking activities.
The 71 men and 19 women - aged between 18 and 67 - were nabbed by officers from the Criminal Investigation Department and six Police Land Divisions at multiple locations in Singapore during the operation from Monday to Thursday (Oct 19-22).
In a Facebook post on Sunday (Oct 25) morning, the Singapore Police Force said preliminary investigations revealed that one of the suspects was believed to have been running an unlicensed moneylending business.
Eleven other suspects were runners who assisted the loansharks by conducting ATM transfers or procuring ATM cards for the syndicate's use, while another two carried out harassment activities by splashing paint and scrawling loanshark-related graffiti on walls.
The remaining 76 suspects were said to have opened bank accounts, and subsequently gave away their ATM cards and PIN numbers to loansharks in order to facilitate their businesses.
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.
The police has advised members of the public to stay away from loansharks and not to work or assist them any way. They 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.