SINGAPORE: Nearly 300 people were arrested in a recent two-week anti-loansharking operation, said the Singapore Police Force (SPF) on Tuesday (Sep 8).
Police arrested 207 men and 66 women, aged between 16 and 70, who were suspected of being involved in loansharking activities, said SPF in a news release.
During the operation spanning between Aug 24 and Sep 6, officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the seven police land divisions simultaneously raided multiple locations islandwide, resulting in the arrests.
READ: More than 300 people under investigation for scams, money laundering, unlicensed moneylending activities
"Preliminary investigations revealed that 67 suspects are believed to be runners who had assisted the loan sharks in their businesses by carrying out Automated Teller Machine (ATM) transfers and collecting debts in person.
"Seven suspects are believed to be harassers who had carried out acts of harassment by splashing paint and scrawling loan shark-related graffiti on walls," said SPF.
"The remaining 199 suspects are believed to have opened bank accounts and given away their ATM cards and Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) to loan sharks to facilitate their unlicensed moneylending businesses," it added.
Investigations against all the suspects are ongoing.
The first-time offence of carrying on or assisting in unlicensed moneylending is punishable by a fine of between S$30,000 and S$300,000, imprisonment of up to four years and caning of up to six strokes.
Under the Moneylenders’ Act (Revised Edition 2010), any account holder is presumed to have assisted in unlicensed moneylending when their bank account or ATM card is used to facilitate such a transaction.
First-time offenders found guilty of acting on behalf of an unlicensed moneylender, committing or attempting any acts of harassment may be jailed up to five years, fined S$5,000 to S$50,000, and caned between three and six strokes.
"The police 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 would include taking action against those who open or give away their bank accounts to aid unlicensed moneylenders," said SPF.