Tighter laws on loan sharks, runners

Items including $86,000 in cash, mobile phones and laptop computers were seized by officers from the Police Intelligence and Criminal Investigation departments (CID) in a massive 12-hour anti-loansharking operation.

The Government has tightened laws to make it harder for loan sharks and their runners to operate. Changes were made in January 2010 to the Moneylenders Act.

Jail terms and caning are now mandatory for loan sharks and their runners who hurt people or damage property, even if they are first-time offenders.

Other changes include:

Assets of suspected kingpins can be frozen, and courts can punish loan sharks and their associates even if they operate from overseas.

Adults who use youngsters under the age of 16 for loan shark-related activities can be jailed up to nine years and fined a maximum of $300,000. They can also receive up to 12 strokes of the cane.

Last week, the police also began installing closed-circuit television cameras at 300 HDB blocks and multi-storey carparks at places including Tampines, Woodlands and Clementi.

This pilot phase will be completed next month and islandwide installation of these cameras is slated for completion in 2016.

A check on the Singapore Police Force website revealed that the number of reported unlicensed moneylending and harassment cases has gone down by 3,492 cases.

There were 13,342 reported cases last year, compared with 16,834 in 2010. But the number of people arrested for loan shark activities has gone up.

The police said that 1,981 people were nabbed for the offence last year, compared with 1,508 in 2010.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

Become a fan on Facebook