273 nabbed in two-week islandwide anti-loan-sharking raids

SINGAPORE - Some 273 people have been arrested in a two-week-long anti-loan-sharking blitz.

In a statement on Tuesday (Sept 8), the police said they arrested 207 men and 66 women, aged between 16 and 70, for their suspected involvement in loansharking activities.

The operation took place over a fortnight from Aug 24 to Sunday (Sept 6).

During the operation, officers from the Criminal Investigation Department and the seven police land divisions conducted simultaneous raids at multiple locations islandwide.

The police said that preliminary investigations revealed that 67 suspects were likely runners who had assisted loan sharks to carry out ATM transfers and collect debts in person.

Another seven suspects are believed to be harassers who carried out acts of harassment by splashing paint and scrawling loan shark-related graffiti on walls.

The remaining 199 people arrested are suspected to have opened bank accounts and given away their ATM cards and PINs to loan sharks to facilitate their unlicensed moneylending.

Police said investigations are under way.

They added that 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 unlicensed moneylending.

First-time offenders found guilty of carrying out or assisting in the business of unlicensed moneylending may be fined between $30,000 and $300,000, jailed up to four years and given up to six strokes of the cane.

Those guilty of acting on behalf of an unlicensed moneylender, committing or attempting to commit any acts of harassment for the first time face jail of up to five years, a fine of between $5,000 and $50,000, and between three and six strokes of the cane.

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

"This would include taking action against those who open or give away their bank accounts to aid unlicensed moneylenders," they added.

Those who suspect or know of anyone who could be involved in illegal loan-sharking activities can call the police on 999 or the X-Ah Long hotline on 1800-924-5664.

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