12-year-old among 189 suspects under investigation for unlicensed moneylending activities
SINGAPORE - A total of 189 people, between 12 and 78 years old, are being investigated for their involvement in unlicensed moneylending activities, including harassing victims at their residences.
The police conducted raids islandwide during a two-week anti-unlicensed moneylending operation between Nov 22 and Dec 3.
In a statement on Tuesday ( Dec 7), the police said that preliminary investigations revealed that 16 suspects had allegedly harassed victims at their residences, while 37 suspects are believed to be runners who had helped unlicensed moneylending businesses carry out automated teller machine (ATM) transfers.
One suspect is also believed to have provided false contact information to an unlicensed moneylender, leading to the harassment of a person who is not the suspect.
The other 135 suspects are believed to have opened bank accounts and given unlicensed moneylenders their ATM cards, personal identification numbers and Internet banking tokens.
Under the Moneylenders' Act, when a bank account, ATM card or Internet banking token of any person is used to facilitate unlicensed moneylending, that person is presumed to have helped the process.
Investigations against all the suspects are ongoing.
First-time offenders found guilty of assisting in a business of unlicensed moneylending can be jailed for up to four years, fined between $30,000 and $300,000, and given 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 can be fined between $5,000 and $50,000, jailed for up to five years, and can be punished with caning of between three and six strokes.
Those found guilty of providing false contact information to obtain loans from unlicensed moneylenders can also be jailed up to 12 months.
The police said: "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."
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 unlicensed moneylending activities.