More than 100 nabbed in 4-day anti-loan shark operation

SINGAPORE - A total of 111 people, aged between 21 and 84, were arrested this week for their involvement in loan shark activities.

In a four-day operation beginning Monday, officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the six police land divisions conducted simultaneous raids around the island.

They nabbed 80 men and 31 women.

Nine of these people are believed to be runners, and had carried out ATM transfers on behalf of loan sharks. They also procured ATM cards for syndicates to use.

Another two suspects are believed to be involved in harassing debtors by splashing paint and putting up loan shark-related graffiti on walls.

Another person is suspected to have given false contact information in order to obtain loans.

The remaining suspects - 99 in all - are believed to have opened bank accounts. They also purportedly gave away their ATM cards and Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) to loan sharks to facilitate unlicensed moneylending businesses.

Investigations against all the suspects are ongoing.

Passing an ATM card or bank account to any person to facilitate moneylending by an unlicensed moneylender constitutes assisting in carrying on the business of loan sharking, under the Moneylenders' Act.

First-time offenders found guilty of carrying on a business of unlicensed moneylending may be jailed for up to four years, fined between $30,000 and 30,000, and punished with up to six strokes of the cane.

First-time offenders found guilty of assisting in the business of unlicensed moneylanding face the same penalties.

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

Anyone who is convicted of giving false contact information to obtain loans from loan sharks can be jailed for up to 12 months if found guilty.

Anyone who is guilty of failing to report a change in address can be jailed for up to five years and/or fined up to $5,000.