92 arrested in island-wide anti-loansharking blitz

Ninety-two people have been arrested between Monday and Wednesday for suspected loanshark activities.
Ninety-two people have been arrested between Monday and Wednesday for suspected loanshark activities.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The police have arrested 92 people suspected of being involved in loansharking activities.

The 71 men and 21 women, aged between 18 and 64, were arrested between Monday (Dec 21) and Wednesday, police said in a statement on Thursday.

The majority of suspects are believed to have opened bank accounts to facilitate the loansharks' illegal moneylending business.

Officers from the Criminal Investigation Department and the six police land divisions conducted simultaneous raids at multiple locations over the three days to make the arrests.

Two of those arrested are suspected to be loansharks who had made loans to borrowers. Two are believed to be runners who helped to carry out ATM transfers for the loansharks.

Another two are believed to be harassers who hounded debtors by splashing paint and scrawling graffiti on walls.

Eighty-five suspects are believed to have opened bank accounts and given away their ATM cards and personal identification numbers to the loansharks to facilitate their unlicensed moneylending businesses.

The police also arrested one suspect who is believed to have provided false contact information when borrowing from loansharks. He will be investigated for failing to report a change of address.

Investigations against all the suspects are ongoing.

Those found guilty of assisting unlicensed moneylenders may be fined between $30,000 and $300,000 and be imprisoned for up to four years .

First-time offenders found guilty of acting on behalf of an unlicensed moneylender, committing or attempting to commit any acts of harassment can be jailed up to five years and can be fined between $5,000 and $50,000.

Both offences are also punishable by caning of up to six strokes.

Any person who is guilty of providing false contact information to obtain loans from loansharks can be jailed up to 12 months.

Under the National Registration Act, any person who is guilty of an offence of failing to report a change of address can be fined up to $5,000 and/or jailed up to five years.

The police advised members of the public to stay away from loansharks and not to help loansharks in any way.

The public can call 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.