Four arrested over Hong Kong loan-sharking operation with 1,200 per cent annual interest

Police allege suspects laundered HK$1.6 million through two bank accounts and that they found borrowers through social media

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 August, 2017, 7:03am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 August, 2017, 7:03am

Police arrested four suspected members of a loan-sharking syndicate that charged debtors up to 1,200 per cent a year in interest payments.

The city’s highest legal interest rate is 60 per cent.

However, Inspector Cheung Hoi-yee of the Sau Mau Ping district crime squad said the ringleader of the syndicate and other members were still at large.

She said the gang found borrowers through social media and had been in operation for at least two years.

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Cheung said the operation involved tens of debtors and their loan amounts ranged from thousands of dollars to tens of thousands.

After an investigation lasting several months, police made a series of raids across the city after daybreak on Wednesday.

Officers arrested a man, 26, and two women aged 30 and 52, in a raid on a public housing flat in Choi Wan Estate in Choi Hung at about 7am.

Police picked up another man aged 20 at Hong Kong International Airport.

Officers also seized bank documents and cards.

Cheung said the four Hongkongers were accused of laundering HK$1.6 million through two bank accounts between June 2015 and February 2017. She said the money was believed to be crime proceeds raised through loan-sharking activities.

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The suspects were being detained at Sau Mau Ping police station for questioning and had not been charged.

Police said the operation was still in progress and further arrests were possible.

On Tuesday, detectives from the Kowloon East regional crime unit arrested a man, 40, and a woman, 45, who were accused of helping another triad-controlled loan-sharking syndicate launder HK$7 million over the past six years.