GEORGE TOWN: Police bust three illegal loan shark groups, believed to have been charging borrowers an interest rate of between 30 and 50 per cent a month, and detained 20 individuals including one with a Datuk Seri title.
State police chief Datuk Mohd Shuhaily Mohd Zain said all 20 arrested were between 21 and 59 years old. They were detained in various parts of the state between 6am and 5pm on July 7, following a joint operation by the state commercial criminal investigation unit and Bukit Aman.
Two of three illegal loan shark groups operated in groups while the third conducted the business on its own.
“The first loan shark group that led to the arrest of 15 people, was led by a 59-year-old Datuk Seri.
“The second group, known as Ah Long Wong, led to the arrest of four people. The group was led by a 25-year-old. The third group was masterminded by a 36-year-old man in silo,” he told a press conference at the state police contingent headquarters here today.
Initial investigation showed the Datuk Seri businessman was also linked to Gang 24, believed to have involvement in other criminal activities such as gambling, prostitution, extortion and drugs.
“The first loan shark group, led by the Datuk Seri, would offer loans with a high interest rate of between 30 and 50 per cent per month,” he said.
It is learnt that if borrowers failed to service their loans, the gang members will use threats and even hurt them. Firearms and weapons are believed to have been used to instill fear from the borrowers.
“The loan shark group is believed to have a turnover of RM500,000 a month through illegal money-lending activities. Among their borrowers were shop owners, factory owners and workers as well as traders,” he added.
Shuhaily said police also seized 11 luxury vehicles such as Toyota Vellfire, BMW, Mercedes Benz and Honda from the three groups.
Police also seized 36 cell phones, 64 bank cards, cash totalling RM24,520, nine watches and jewellery.
Shuhaily said the groups took advantage of the current economic hardship due to Covid-19 pandemic to offer high-interest loans to those who were desperate to borrow money.
“The fifth loan shark, who was operating alone, lends money with an interest rate of between three to five per cent,” he added.
All charges fall under Section 5(2) of the Moneylenders Act 1951.-NST