SINGAPORE: A 16-year-old was among 203 people investigated for suspected involvement in unlicensed moneylending activities, said the police on Sunday (Oct 31).
Officers from the Criminal Investigation Department and seven police land divisions conducted simultaneous raids island-wide during a two-week operation between Oct 18 and Oct 29.
Investigations against all the suspects, aged between 16 and 71, are ongoing, said the police in a news release.
Preliminary investigations revealed that 48 suspects were believed to be runners who had assisted in unlicensed moneylending businesses by carrying out ATM transfers.
Another 11 were believed to have harassed debtors at their homes.
The remaining 144 suspects were alleged to have opened bank accounts, provided their ATM cards and Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) as well as Internet Banking tokens to unlicensed moneylenders to facilitate their businesses.
“Under the Moneylenders Act (Revised Edition 2010), 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,” said the police.
If found guilty of carrying on or assisting in a business of unlicensed moneylending, first-time offenders may be jailed up to four years, fined between S$30,000 and S$300,000, and caned up to six strokes.
For those found guilty of committing or attempting to commit any acts of harassment on behalf of an unlicensed moneylender, first-time offenders may be jailed up to five years, fined between S$5,000 and S$50,000, and caned between three and six strokes.
The police said they will continue to take “tough enforcement action” against those involved in unlicensed moneylending business, regardless of their roles. This includes those who open or give away their bank account to aid unlicensed moneylenders.
“Unlicensed moneylenders are increasingly using text messaging or online platforms to send unsolicited loan advertisements,” they said.
Members of the public were reminded not to reply or to respond to such advertisements, and to report these messages as spam.