Singapore — The police have arrested 237 people (160 men and 77 women) between the ages of 13 and 77 for suspected involvement in loansharking activities.
The suspects were picked up in an 11-day operation from July 20 to 30 involving officers from the Criminal Investigation Department and the seven police land divisions. The officers simultaneously raided multiple locations throughout the island.
Police investigations indicated 51 of the suspects to be runners who handled ATM transfers and 12 to be involved in harassment by “splashing paint and scrawling loanshark-related graffiti on walls”.
The other 174 people arrested are suspected to have opened bank accounts and given their ATM cards and Personal Identification Numbers to loansharks for their activities.
The police investigations are still in progress.
According to the Moneylenders’ Act (Revised Edition 2010), a bank account or ATM card of an individual used by an illegal moneylender will be presumed to be a part of the unlicensed activity.
First-time offenders found guilty “of assisting in the business of unlicensed moneylending” may be fined between S$30,000 and S$300,000, be imprisoned for a term of up to four years, and be liable for 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” face imprisonment for a term up to 5 years, a fine of between S$5,000 and S$50,000, and caning of between three and six strokes.
The police advise members of the public to stay away from loansharks and not to work with or assist the loansharks in any way.
Members of the public can call the police at 999 or the X-Ah Long hotline at 1800-924-5664 if they know anyone or suspect individuals to be involved in loansharking activities. /TISG