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     FrontPage Edition: Sat 28 October 2006

34 people to be charged in court for assisting loansharks


34 To Be Charged In Court For Assisting Loansharks

A total of 34 persons comprising 29 men and 5 women aged between 19 and 65 years old, will be facing charges under the Moneylenders Act, for handing over their bank accounts to unlicensed moneylending syndicates to facilitate the syndicates¡¯ activities. They will be produced in Court 26 tomorrow morning ( 27 Oct 2006 at 9 am ).
The 34 persons were implicated in the course of the investigations into reports of unlicensed moneylending.
Majority of them were either debtors who had taken loans from unlicensed moneylending syndicates or had acted as guarantors for debtors.
When they were unable to service their repayments, the unlicensed moneylending syndicates would ask them to open bank accounts and thereafter hand over their ATM cards and the accompanying Personal Identification Number (PIN) to the syndicates to be used to carry out their illegal operations.
As part of the ongoing Police efforts to curb illegal moneylending activities in Singapore , errant debtors who facilitate unlicensed moneylending syndicates to evade Police detection would also be dealt with accordingly under the law.
DSP Yokeswaren Muniswaran, Head of the AUML Task Force says, ¡°We will continue to take harsh action against illegal moneylenders, and we will also take action against anyone assisting them. Abetting unlicensed moneylending is a serious crime.¡±
Since the amendment bill of the Moneylender¡¯s Act came into effect on 1 Jan 06, the fines and imprisonment terms for offenders have been enhanced.
First-time offenders found guilty of operating a business as an unlicensed moneylender may be fined between $20,000/- and $200,000/-, jailed a maximum of 2 years, or both. Repeat offenders may face a fine of between $20,000/- and $200,000/-, and a maximum jail term of 5 years.
Persons found guilty of harassing or intimidating any persons in connection with loans by an unlicensed moneylender may be fined between $4,000/- and $40,000/-, jailed a maximum of 3 years, or both.
In the case of a second or subsequent offence, offenders face a fine of between $4,000/- and $40,000/-, and a maximum jail term of 6 years. In addition, offenders are also liable to be caned if they had caused damage to any property during the commission of the harassment acts.
26 October 2006 @ 9.30pm

Source: Media Release 26 Oct 2006

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