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The police conducted a four-day operation from Nov 20 to Nov 23 that resulted in the arrest of 80 men and 31 women, aged between 21 and 84, for their suspected involvement in loansharking activities.
During this period, officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the six police land divisions conducted simultaneous raids at multiple locations in Singapore, resulting in the arrests, the police said in a media release.
Preliminary investigations revealed that nine suspects are believed to be runners who had carried out Automated Teller Machine (ATM) transfers on behalf of loansharks and procured ATM cards for the syndicates’ usage. Another two suspects are believed to have carried out acts of loanshark harassment by splashing paint and scrawling loanshark-related graffiti on walls, while one suspect is believed to have provided false contact information for the purpose of obtaining loans.
The remaining 99 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. Investigations against all the 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 to have assisted in carrying on the business of unlicensed moneylending.
First-time offenders found guilty of carrying on or assisting a business of unlicensed moneylending may be fined 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 imprisonment for a term of up to 5 years, a fine of between $5,000 and $50,000, and shall also be liable to caning of between 3 and 6 strokes.
Moreover, anyone who is guilty of providing false contact information to obtain loans from loansharks shall be liable upon conviction to imprisonment for a term of up to 12 months.
In a statement made by the Police, they advised members of the Public to stay away from loansharks and not work with or assist loansharks in any way. They also encouraged the Public to 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 reiterated that they will continue to take tough enforcement action against those involved in the loansharking business, regardless of their roles, and they will face the full brunt of the law. This includes taking action against those who open or give away their bank accounts to aid unlicensed moneylenders.