The Singapore Police have arrested two Filipino women for suspected involvement in unlicensed money-lending operations in the city-state.
According to the police, they were tipped regarding the suspicious activities last September 3. The two Filipino women were believed to be issuing loans to foreign workers in Singapore.
Filipinas Arrested for Alleged Involvement in Unlicensed Money-Lending
On the same day, the police conducted an entrapment operation, through which both women were arrested, as shared in a report by Channel News Asia.
According to preliminary investigations, the suspects were found to have been giving loans to foreign domestic workers in Punggol and Sengkang housing estates as per police reports.
In the same news release, the police shared that they have observed foreign workers borrowing money from unlicensed money-lenders. In some instances, they even helped the unlicensed moneylenders or ran the operation themselves.
Money-lending makes up a small portion of the total consumer credit market in Singapore, with money-lenders providing less than 1% of total consumer loans.
In line with this, Singapore has established the Moneylenders Act (2008) and the Moneylenders Rules (2009), together with multiple subsequent addendums, to regulate Singapore’s money-lending industry.
In recent years, the amendments to the above-listed acts have called for:
- The use of effective interest rates (“EIR”) rather than nominal interest rates.
- The removal of certain fees that had been previously allowed.
- Increasing the annual income of borrowers that can enjoy limitations on interest rates, thereby allowing more people to borrow at a lower rate.
- Limitations on the amount of money that may be borrowed based upon borrower income.
- Increased penalties for illegal money-lending that now include caning for harassment as well as jail sentences.
In response to this, the police have engaged relevant ministries such as the Ministry of Manpower as well as foreign domestic worker help agencies to educate foreign workers about borrowing from unlicensed moneylenders.
Furthermore, the police cautioned the public to steer clear from unlicensed money-lenders and to not work with them in any way.
If convicted of unlicensed money-lending, they can be fined up to SGD 300,000 and jailed up to four years.
Meanwhile, foreign workers who have assisted or borrowed money from unlicensed money-lenders may also be repatriated and barred from working in Singapore.
Members of the public may report incidents involving unlicensed money-lenders to the police or by calling the X-Ah Long hotline at 1800-924-5664 if they suspect or know of anyone who could be involved in unlicensed money-lending activities.
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