SINGAPORE - Police have arrested 114 people - 83 men and 31 women - for their suspected involvement in loan-sharking activities in a three-day operation that ended on Wednesday (March 29).
Officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the six police land divisions conducted simultaneous raids at multiple locations in Singapore, police said on Thursday.
The suspects are aged between 17 and 67 years old.
Preliminary investigations revealed that 23 suspects believed to be runners who assisted the loan sharks by carrying out Automated Teller Machine (ATM) transfers and collecting debts in person.
Two suspects were also arrested for alleged acts of loan-shark harassment by splashing paint and scrawling loan shark-related graffiti on walls.
The remaining 89 suspects are believed to have opened bank accounts and given away their ATM cards and Personal Identification Numbers to loan sharks to facilitate their unlicensed moneylending businesses.
Investigations against 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 carrying on or assisting with 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 five years, a fine of between $5,000 and $50,000, and shall also be liable to caning of between three and six strokes.
"We 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," said a police spokesman.
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 loan-sharking activities.