The Police are investigating 166 persons, aged between 15 and 69, for their suspected involvement in unlicensed moneylending activities.
During a two-week anti-unlicensed moneylending operation conducted between 12 and 25 July 2021, officers from the Criminal Investigation Department and the seven Police land divisions conducted simultaneous raids island-wide.
Preliminary investigation revealed that 15 suspects are believed to have conducted harassment at debtors’ residences; 28 suspects are believed to be runners who had assisted unlicensed moneylenders in their businesses by carrying out Automated Teller Machine (ATM) transfers; one suspect is believed to have provided false contact information leading to harassment being carried out against an innocent victim’s residence; and one suspect is believed to have operated an unlicensed moneylending business issuing loans to several borrowers in Singapore.
The remaining 121 suspects are believed to have opened bank accounts and provided their ATM cards, Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) and/or Internet banking tokens to unlicensed moneylenders to facilitate their businesses. Under the Moneylenders’ Act (Revised Edition 2010), when a bank account, ATM card or Internet banking token 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.
Investigations against all the suspects are ongoing.
Under the Moneylenders’ Act (Revised Edition 2010):
- First-time offenders found guilty of carrying on or assisting in a business of unlicensed moneylending shall be punished with imprisonment term of up to four years, a fine of between $30,000 and $300,000, and caning of up to six strokes; and
- First-time offenders found guilty of committing or attempting to commit any acts of harassment on behalf of an unlicensed moneylender shall be punished with imprisonment term of up to five years, a fine of between $5,000 and $50,000, and caning of between three and six strokes.
The Police will continue to take tough enforcement action against those involved in the unlicensed moneylending businesses, regardless of their roles, and ensure that they face the full brunt of the law. This will include taking action against those who open or give away their bank accounts to aid unlicensed moneylenders.
Loansharks are increasingly using text messaging or online platforms to send unsolicited loan advertisements. Members of the public are reminded not to reply or respond to such advertisements and report these messages as spam. Members of the public are also 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.
SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE
26 July 2021 @ 7:40 PM