Prison for illegal pawnshop who offered loans to housekeepers at 5 times the legal interest rate, Courts & Crime News & Top Stories

SINGAPORE – An illegal money lender has granted a total of $ 8,400 in loans to at least 19 Filipino domestic workers and charged an interest rate of 20% per month, five times the maximum legal rate.

Deputy Prosecutor Pavithra Ramkumar said the interest rate was sky-high, with the maximum rate prescribed by the 2009 lender rules at just 4 percent.

Tan Boon Teck, who earned up to $ 1,500 a month from his money lending business, committed the offenses despite knowing that unlicensed monetary loans are illegal in Singapore.

He also scolded and used vulgarities against debtors who did not repay their loans.

The 61-year-old Singaporean was sentenced Wednesday, November 25, to two years and six weeks in prison and fined $ 240,000 after pleading guilty to eight counts of illegally operating a money-lending company involving $ 3,900.

He will spend an additional 16 weeks behind bars if he is unable to pay the fine.

Ten other charges related to the remaining amount were considered in sentencing. He committed his offenses between 2017 and last year.

Tan had roped up his Filipino girlfriend, domestic worker Shirley Cansino Eustaquio, to help him transfer loans to debtors and collect repayments.

For her role in the offenses, she had previously been sentenced to eight weeks in prison and a fine of $ 60,000. She has since been repatriated to her country of origin.

DPP Pavithra said Tan would generally stay near Takashimaya Mall, Ion Orchard or Lucky Plaza on Sundays to make new loans to new debtors and collect loan repayments from existing debtors.

She added that Tan was known to his debtors by several names, including “Uncle” or “Kuya” – Tagalog for “elder brother”.

In June 2017, a Filipino housemaid met Tan and Eustaquio near Ngee Ann City when she wanted to borrow $ 500 for her grandchild’s medical bills.

The housekeeper, who was earning $ 700 per month, then received $ 400 in cash from Tan and was told that $ 100 had been deducted from the loan amount as “interest.”

Tan also told her that she had to repay the loan in monthly installments of $ 100, otherwise a late fee of $ 50 would be applied.

“Whenever she was late to pay back, the accused would call her and yell at her on the phone, which scared her,” the DPP said.

The housekeeper stopped repaying in December 2018. By that time, she had paid Tan a total of $ 1,500.

From then until last year, Tan targeted other maids and also granted them loans with high interest rates.

In an earlier statement, police said they received information about Tan in November 2018. He was arrested on May 12 last year.

District Judge Marvin Bay said on Wednesday: “There is a need for the court to crack down on illegal lending of money, which is an unmistakably lucrative business where offenders hope to make huge gains from relatively modest cash expenditures.

“I note that the loans were made to foreign domestic workers who would constitute a category of vulnerable people with limited means of obtaining credit and who would be susceptible to exploitation if they resorted to illegal pawn shops to respond. financial demands due to family crises such as the medical costs of relatives in their country of origin.

First-time offenders convicted of operating an unauthorized money lending business can be sentenced to imprisonment for up to four years and a fine of $ 30,000 to $ 300,000.

They can also receive up to six blows from the cane. Tan cannot be caned because he is over 50 years old.


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