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     FrontPage Edition: Fri 13 April 2007

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Police bust unlicensed moneylending syndicate


Unlicensed Moneylending Syndicate Busted - $130,000 Seized

Seventeen Chinese men aged between 17 to 38 years old believed to be members of an unlicensed moneylending (UML) syndicate were arrested in an island-wide operation conducted on 12 April 07. More than $130,000 in cash was seized.
Through intensive intelligence gathering and surveillance work, Police were able to identify the members of the syndicate.
Fifteen premises in Woodlands, Sengkang, Ang Mo Kio, Toa Payoh, Hougang, Yishun, Sembawang, Serangoon and Changi were raided during the operation, which lasted from 8pm on 12 April 07 to 1am on 13 April 07.
Besides cash, the other items seized included five computers, one printer, one palmtop, some 40 mobile phones, thumbdrives, an assortment of ATM cards and pre-paid SIM cards, and some bank books. Documents containing written entries, believed to be debtors¡¯ records, were also seized, together with tools commonly used by UML syndicates to harass their debtors, which included marker pens and tins of paint.
Police believe that the syndicate would typically provide weekly loans charged at a flat interest rate of 20%, to be repaid in weekly installments.
When the debtor default his repayments, the syndicate would harass them and their guarantors by vandalising public walls with graffiti or by splashing paint at their units.
The UML syndicate used ATMs and Internet banking to facilitate fund transfers. To protect the secrecy of their own identities, the syndicate would make use of debtors¡¯ bank accounts and telecommunication lines.
The syndicate is believed to have a monthly turnover of approximately $500,000/-, with about 1,000 debtors¡¯ records in their databases, and is also believed to be responsible for at least 230 cases of harassments island-wide.
This operation is part of on-going Police efforts to curb illegal moneylending activities in Singapore. Assistant Director of Specialised Crime Division, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Wong Choong Mann says, ¡°Police is determined to suppress unlicensed moneylending activities in Singapore. We will continue to bring illegal moneylenders, runners and abettors to task relentlessly.¡±
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.
Offenders who cause damage to property or hurt to persons while carrying out harassment activities may also be liable for caning.
13 April 2007 @ 10.00 am

Source: News Release 13 Apr 2007

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