182 people nabbed in island-wide blitz against loan-sharking activities

SINGAPORE - Nearly 200 people, aged between 16 and 77, were arrested in an island-wide sting against loansharking.

The operation, which took place from Aug 11 to 15, caught 126 men and 56 women during simultaneous raids at multiple locations. Preliminary investigations revealed that 165 suspects are believed to have opened bank accounts and given away their Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards and Personal Identification Number to the loansharks to help them in their criminal activities.

Another 16 are believed to be involved in harassment, or as runners who carry out ATM transfers, verify debtors' particulars and check if their homes have been vandalised. 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 the 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 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.