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Monday, June 24, 2024
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102 PPL INVESTIGATED AFTER ANTI-LOANSHARK OPERATION

The Police are investigating 102 persons, aged between 14 and 69, for their suspected involvement in unlicensed moneylending activities, following an unlicensed moneylending suppression operation conducted between 22 and 26 April 2024.

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During the five-day operation, officers from the Criminal Investigation Department and the seven Police land divisions conducted simultaneous raids island-wide. Preliminary investigations revealed that 11 persons had allegedly conducted harassment at debtors’ residences and 45 persons are believed to be runners who had assisted in unlicensed moneylending businesses by carrying out Automated Teller Machine (ATM) transfers. 

The remaining 46 persons 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 unlicensed moneylending businesses. 

Investigations against all the persons are ongoing.

Under the Moneylenders Act 2008, 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. First-time offenders found guilty of the offence 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 not less than $30,000 and not more than $300,000, and caning of not more than six strokes. First-time offenders found guilty of the offence of acting on behalf of an unlicensed moneylender to commit or attempt to commit any acts of harassment shall be punished with imprisonment term of up to five years, a fine of not less than $5,000 and not more than $50,000, and caning of not less than three and not more than six strokes.  

The Police will continue to take tough enforcement action against those involved in the unlicensed moneylending business, 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 will not hesitate to carry out persistent and dangerous harassment acts on the borrowers and their families, such as setting fire and splashing paint at their residences, and locking the gates using chains or bicycle locks to confine the occupants. Members of the public are advised to stay away from unlicensed moneylenders to avoid the vicious cycle of harassment, and not to work with or assist them in any way as there are serious legal consequences. 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

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