Man caned for running loansharking business

SINGAPORE: A man who ran an illegal moneylending business was sentenced on Wednesday to four years and four months’ jail, fined S$151,000 and ordered to receive 21 strokes of the cane.

Police have also seized his ill—gotten gains worth more than S$107,000 in all, and this will be forfeited to the state.

They include cash, a motorcycle and a car.

Thirty—four—year—old Tok Leong Hai had pleaded guilty to 21 of the 82 charges against him.

The remaining 61 charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.

Tok had given out loans totalling S$35,500 between 2008 and last year, charging his debtors interest rates of up to 20 per cent.

On his behalf, two of his runners had also harassed debtors who could not repay their loans.

For his role in the crime, 26—year—old runner Ho Yew Fei had earlier been sentenced to two years’ jail and ordered to receive 12 strokes of the cane.

Another runner, 43—year—old Kwek Sir Huat, who was fined S$360,000, was also jailed for two years.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Sherlyn Neo told the court Tok ran a franchise of an unlicensed moneylending firm led by a man known as "Ah Neng".

Tok, who used to be one of Ah Neng’s debtors, had agreed to be part of the business after he was unable to repay his loans totalling S$110,000.

DPP Neo said Tok was tasked to liaise with debtors who had to be approved by Ah Neng.

The two men agreed to share profits equally.

Tok started running the "franchise" sometime between July and August 2008, and he continued with his illegal activities until his arrest on August 4 last year.

By then, he had acquired about 60 active debtors with outstanding loans totalling some S$60,000.

Ah Neng, who was later identified to be 39—year—old Khoo Joo Huat, has already been charged in court and will be dealt with at a later date.

—CNA/wk