The Police have arrested 88 men and 48 women, aged between 17 and 69, for their suspected involvement in loansharking activities over two separate operations that were conducted from 14 to 16 October 2019.
In the first operation conducted between 14 and 16 October 2019, officers from the Criminal Investigation Department and the seven Police Land Divisions conducted simultaneous raids at multiple locations islandwide, resulting in the arrests of 78 men and 47 women. Preliminary investigations revealed that one suspect is believed to have carried out an unlicensed moneylending business. Two suspects are believed to have carried out acts of loanshark harassment by splashing paint and scrawling loanshark-related graffiti on walls. Of the remaining 122 arrested, 32 suspects are believed to be runners who had carried out Automated Teller Machine (ATM) transfers on behalf of loansharks, while 89 suspects are believed to have opened bank accounts and given away their ATM cards and Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) to loansharks to facilitate their unlicensed moneylending businesses. The last suspect is believed to have provided false contact information for the purpose of obtaining loans.
In a separate operation conducted on 16 October 2019, officers from the Criminal Investigation Department conducted simultaneous raids at multiple locations island-wide, resulting in the arrests of 10 men and one woman. During the operation, items including cash amounting to about $9,640, mobile phones, ATM cards, one internet-banking dongle and bank transaction receipts were seized. Preliminary investigations suggested that the suspects are believed to be members with various roles in a loansharking syndicate.
Ten men and one woman, aged between 21 and 52, will be charged in court on 18 October 2019 for offences under the Moneylenders Act (Revised Edition 2010). Investigations against 125 suspects are ongoing.
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, until the contrary is proved, to have assisted in carrying on the business of unlicensed moneylending.
First-time offenders found guilty of carrying on or assisting in a business of unlicensed moneylending shall be punished with a fine 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 a fine of between $5,000 and $50,000, be imprisoned for a term of up to five years, and shall also be liable to be punished with caning between three and six strokes.
Members of the public are advised to stay away from loansharks and not to work with or assist the loansharks in any way. The public can call the Police at '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.
The Police will take tough enforcement actions against those who are found to be involved in the loansharking activities. Regardless of the level of involvement, the perpetrator will face the full brunt of the law.
Source: Singapore Police Force