Published: 23 February 2015
Mr Christopher de Souza: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs if he can provide an update on the number of (i)unlicensed money lending (UML); and, (ii)UML-related harassment cases that have been investigated and prosecuted in 2014 and how does this compare with the same statistics for 2011-2013
1. 2014 saw a continued improvement in the unlicensed moneylending (UML) and UML-related harassment situation. Last year, there were 6,553 reported cases of UML and UML-related harassment. This was a decline of 50% compared to the 13,342 cases in 2011, and a decline of 21% compared to 2013.
2. The improvement in the UML situation can be attributed to the tough laws enacted, strong enforcement efforts against loan-shark syndicates and the high level of community support in the fight against UML activities. From 2011 to 2014, Police arrested close to 1,900 persons for UML and UML-related harassment offences on average each year. In the same period, there were about 2,600 convictions in court for UML and UML-related harassment offences. Those arrested and convicted of UML and UML-related offences can expect to be dealt with seriously. Under Section 28 of the Moneylenders Act, an individual may be sentenced up to nine years imprisonment and given 18 strokes of the cane as well as a fine of up to $60,000.
3. Police will continue to clamp down on UML syndicates as well as those who assist them in such activities. Police will also work with the National Crime Prevention Council to raise public awareness and mobilise the community to enhance their vigilance against such activities.