Written answer by Minister for Law K Shanmugam on licensed moneylenders
22 Nov 2010 Posted in Parliamentary speeches and responses
Er Lee Bee Wah, Member of Parliament, Ang Mo Kio GRC
To ask the Minister for Law with the rising number of newspaper advertisements offering “soft cash” loans with approval “within an hour” (a) what is the Ministry doing to check on these companies to ensure that they are licensed moneylenders; (b) whether the Ministry monitors the activities of licensed moneylenders; (c) what are the criteria in approving a moneylender’s licence; (d) in the past 2 years, how many moneylenders’ licences were terminated because of violation of licensing conditions; and (e) how are licensed moneylenders made accountable for any misconduct.
By law, all licensed moneylenders must state their business name in their advertisements and marketing material. It is an offence for any person who is not a licensed moneylender to issue any advertisement or marketing material offering to lend money. The Registry of Moneylenders also publishes and updates regularly the list of licensed moneylenders on its website. Members of the public are advised not to borrow money from any person who does not state his business name in an advertisement, or whose business name does not appear in the Registry of Moneylenders’ website list of licensed moneylenders. They are also advised to refer suspicious advertisements to the police for investigations. Action is regularly taken by the authorities against unlicensed moneylenders.
On its part, the Registry of Moneylenders monitors the activities of licensed moneylenders. These include inspections carried out at the moneylenders’ premises, investigations into complaints, as well as joint operations with the Police to ensure that they comply with the law.
Appropriate enforcement action will be taken against moneylenders who are found to have contravened the law. These can range from a stern warning to suspension of license, non-renewal or revocation of license, composition and prosecution in Court. In addition, the Registry may forfeit the security deposit of errant moneylenders.
In the past year, the Registry of Moneylenders had suspended 3 licences and revoked 1 licence due to contraventions of the Moneylenders Act.
As for the criteria for granting a moneylender’s license, the Registry of Moneylenders requires that an applicant and all persons managing the moneylending business be of good character, and fit and proper persons. They have to be ordinarily resident in Singapore and above 21 years old. They must also be familiar with the provisions of the Moneylenders Act and Rules. All persons who will be managing a moneylending business are required to possess a minimum of 4 ‘O’ Level credit passes, including a credit pass in ‘O’ Level English as first language. In addition, a $20,000 deposit is required to be placed with the Accountant-General as security for the proper conduct of the business.
Last updated on 25 Nov 2012