Real estate director jailed and fined for unlicensed moneylending

A director of a real estate company was jailed for three months and fined $160,000 on Wednesday for unlicensed moneylending offences.

Lee Pit Chin, 45, was fined another $314,000 for granting unsecured loans to borrowers and knowingly or recklessly furnishing false returns to the Registrar of Moneylenders while he was a licensee of James Lee Credit. This is the highest for given to licensed moneylender since 2011.

The director of James Lee Realty pleaded guilty last Friday to two counts of operating a moneylending business when he had no licence in 2011. He instructed his office worker, Yan Hwee Onn, 50, to disburse loans of $28,500 and $15,000 to two borrowers, charging them an interest rate of 10 per cent a month.

Lee, a science graduate from the National University of Singapore, had also admitted to 30 other offences of breaching the Moneylenders Rules and the Moneylenders Act brought by the Insolvency and Public Trustee's Office (Ipto).

Sixty-two other charges were taken into consideration during his sentencing.

The court heard that in mid-2011, Yan, a former property agent, suggested to Lee to go into the business of issuing loans to potential sellers of HDB flats who requested loans upfront before selling their flats.

Yan said he would act as the middleman by scouting for sellers, offering and issuing them loans and cash out the repayments, while Lee would provide the funds.

Lee was familiar with such loan operations as he used to own a licensed credit company but had to shut it down due to new Council for Estate Agencies rulings prohibiting property agents from operating a credit company.

Lee and Yan agreed to split the interest earned with 90 per cent to Lee and 10 per cent to Yan.

In March, Yan was jailed for three months and fined $30,000 for assisting in unlicensed moneylending.