Asia

199 people under investigation over loan shark activities

SINGAPORE – A total of 199 people, aged between 14 and 78, are being investigated over their suspected involvement in loan shark activities.

During a two-week anti-loan shark operation conducted by the police between March 22 and April 4, officers from the Criminal Investigation Department and seven police land divisions conducted simultaneous raids islandwide, the police said in a statement on Tuesday (April 6).

Preliminary investigations revealed that 11 of the suspects had allegedly conducted harassment at debtors’ residences, and 36 suspects are believed to be runners who had assisted the loan sharks in their businesses by carrying out automated teller machine (ATM) transfers.

The remaining 152 suspects have purportedly opened bank accounts and provided their ATM cards, personal identification numbers and/or Internet banking tokens to loan sharks to facilitate their unlicensed moneylending businesses.

The authorities are investigating.

Police reminded the public not to reply or respond to unsolicited loan advertisements over text messages or online platforms and to report the WhatsApp messages as spam. The public can call the police or the X-Ah Long hotline on 1800-924-5664 if they suspect or know of anyone involved in illegal loan shark activity.

First-time offenders convicted of carrying on or assisting in a business of unlicensed moneylending can be fined between $30,000 and $300,000, jailed for up to four years and caned up to six strokes.

Those found guilty of acting on behalf of an unlicensed moneylender, committing or attempting to commit acts of harassment can be fined between $5,000 and $50,000, jailed for up to five years and caned between three and six strokes.

Tough enforcement action will be taken against those involved in the loan shark business, regardless of their roles, the police said.

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