SINGAPORE: A total of 219 people are being investigated for their suspected involvement in unlicensed moneylending activities.
They are aged between 16 and 69 years old, the police said in a news release on Sunday (Sep 5).
Simultaneous islandwide raids were conducted during an anti-unlicensed moneylending operation between Aug 23 and Sep 3 by officers from the Criminal Investigation Department and the seven police land divisions.
Preliminary investigations revealed that 11 suspects are believed to have conducted harassment at debtors’ residences.
Another 63 suspects are believed to be runners who had assisted in unlicensed moneylending businesses by carrying out automated teller machine (ATM) transfers while two suspects are believed to have assisted in unlicensed moneylending businesses by registering for mobile lines.
The remaining 143 suspects are believed to have opened bank accounts and provided their ATM cards, personal identification numbers (PINs) or Internet banking tokens to unlicensed moneylenders to facilitate their businesses.
Investigations against all the suspects are ongoing, said the police.
First-time offenders found guilty of carrying on or assisting in a business of unlicensed moneylending face up to four years’ jail, a fine of between S$30,000 and S$300,000, and up to six strokes of the cane.
First-time offenders found guilty of committing or attempting to commit any acts of harassment on behalf of an unlicensed moneylender face up to five years’ jail, a fine of between S$5,000 and S$50,000, and between three and six strokes of the cane.
The police said they 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 includes taking action against those who open or give away their bank accounts to aid unlicensed moneylenders.
“Unlicensed moneylenders 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 to report these messages as spam,” said the police.
The police also advised members of the public to stay away from unlicensed moneylenders and not to work with or assist them in any way.
The public can call the police or the X-Ah Long hotline at 1800-924-5664 if they suspect or know of anyone who could be involved in unlicensed moneylending activities.