JOHOR BARU, Sept 14 — An illegal money lending network that had been operating out of Batu Pahat for the past two years was discovered after police arrested four men suspected of involvement.
Johor police chief Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said the suspects aged between 23 and 36, are believed to be active in loan shark activities in the district and were nabbed separately in Bukit Pasir and Taman Banang on September 6.
“The suspects are also being probed for their involvement in criminal intimidation on the borrowers, including their family members.
“Checks later revealed that three of the four suspects have prior criminal records linked to gambling, violence and also loan shark activities,” said Ayob Khan in a statement today.
Ayob Khan said investigators also seized five laptops, 21 mobile phones, 18 automated teller machine (ATM) bank cards, three notebooks containing contact numbers of borrowers and six pieces of paper that have pictures of the borrowers printed during the raids.
Police also seized 72 Singapore SIM cards, 16 Malaysian SIM cards, six pendrives, two wifi modems, a wrist watch and RM9,700 in cash from the suspects.
Ayob Khan said initial investigations showed that the suspects offered loans between SG$300 (RM927) and SG$1,000 (RM3,090), with an interest fee of 20 per cent.
“The borrowers consist mainly of Malaysians who are working in Singapore,” said Ayob Khan.
The four suspects are being investigated under Section 436 of the Penal Code and Section 5(2) of the Money Lending Act 1952.
They are currently remanded until Wednesday to assist with investigations.
Ayob Khan said 168 investigation papers involving mischief by loan sharks have been opened since January. Of these, 123 cases involved splashing of red paints and 45 cases where Molotov cocktails were thrown at people’s homes.
He said investigators also managed to nab 45 individuals from 12 loan shark syndicates during the same period.
“A total of 33 suspects are put under the Prevention of Crime Act (Poca) 1959,” said Ayob Khan.