Police islandwide operation nets 127 suspects for loansharking activities

SINGAPORE - An islandwide dragnet between Wednesday and Friday saw police arrest 127 suspects for alleged involvement in loansharking activities.

Officers from the Criminal Investigation Department and all six police land divisions launched simultaneous raids at multiple locations, netting 85 men and 42 women aged between 16 and 69. Police said 19 of the suspects were believed to have been harassers or runners who facilitated the loansharks' businesses by procuring Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards, carrying out ATM transfers and advertising loan facilities on behalf of the loansharks.

One other suspect was believed to have provided false contact information when getting loans from loansharks, which led an innocent home-owner to be harassed. The person is being investigated under the National Registration Act for failing to report the change of address.

The remaining 107 suspects were believed to have opened bank accounts and given away their ATM cards and Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) to loansharks to assist their unlicensed moneylending operations.

Police said 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 carrying on the business of unlicensed moneylending.

First-time offenders found guilty of assisting in loansharking may be fined between $30,000 and $300,000, jailed up to four years and caned up to six strokes.

If convicted of acting on behalf of an unlicensed moneylender or harassment, first-time offenders face jail time of up to five years, a fine of between $5,000 and $50,000, and caning of between three and six strokes.

Any person found guilty of providing false contact information to obtain loans from loansharks can be jailed for up to 12 months. A person found to have failed to report a change of address can be fined up to $5,000, jailed up to five years, or both.

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