The Police have arrested 111 suspects for their suspected involvement in loansharking activities in two separate operations conducted from 27 February 2017 till this morning.

In the first operation that was conducted from 27 February to 2 March 2017, officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the six Police land divisions arrested 102 suspects, comprising 70 men and 32 women aged between 16 and 82. Preliminary investigations revealed that one suspect is believed to have provided false contact information when obtaining loans from loansharks, and seven suspects are believed to be "runners" who had assisted the loansharks in their businesses by carrying out Automated Teller Machine (ATM) transfers and collecting debts in person.

The Police also arrested three suspects who are believed to be harassers who had carried out acts of loanshark-harassment by splashing paint and scrawling loanshark-related graffiti on walls. The remaining 91 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.

In the second operation conducted between 1 and 2 March 2017, officers from the CID conducted simultaneous raids at multiple locations islandwide following extensive ground enquiries and arrested nine suspects, comprising six men and three women aged between 28 and 70. During the operation, items such as cash amounting to about $5,800/-, mobile phones, ATM cards, an internet-banking dongle, a notebook and banking slips were also seized as case exhibits. Preliminary investigations revealed that the suspects are believed to be members in a loansharking syndicate.

Investigations against all 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 the carrying on the business of unlicensed moneylending.

First-time offenders found guilty of assisting in the 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.

Any person 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. Under the National Registration Act, any person who is guilty of an offence of failing to report a change of address shall be liable on conviction to a fine of up to $5,000, or to imprisonment for a term of up to 5 years, or to both.

Head of the Unlicensed Moneylending Strikeforce of CID, Superintendent of Police Loh Kah Wai said, "While the unlicensed moneylending situation has continued to improve with the harassment figures at a 10-year low, Police will continue to press on with our enforcement efforts against those involved in the loansharking business, regardless of their roles. Members of public are also advised to stay away from loansharks and not to work with or assist 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."

Source: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE