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Singapore OFWs in illegal lending scheme jailed, fined ₱10M




An unlicensed money-lending business in Singapore carries a maximum jail term of four years and a fine between S$30,000 and S$300,000. (Getty)

Two overseas Filipino workers in Singapore are in jail and must pay a fine of more than P10 million each after their illegal money-lending business that victimized fellow OFWS was busted.

For nine charges under the Moneylenders Act, with another 19 charges taken into consideration, 30-year-old Cyrine Mercado David was sentenced on Thursday to two and a half years in jail and a fine of S$270,000 (about P10.1 million).

At the time of the offense, David was an analyst programmer working on a project for Maybank under a company called Solderfield.

Her co-accused, 42-year-old domestic helper Marianne Pasco Valino  was sentenced in December to a shorter 27 months and a similar fine of S$270,000.

If they cannot pay the fine, they will have to serve another nine months.

When they were caught, they had 18 borrowers and S$88,607.50 worth of live loans yet to be repaid to them.

David earned a profit of about S$73,000 (about P2.7 million) from the loans and paid interest, while her accomplice earned about S$36,000 (about P1.3 million).

She rented a room in Punggol, which she shared with Valino.

In late 2016, Valino’s fellow maids asked her if she knew of anyone who would be willing to extend loans to them.

Valino then told David about it, offering to pay 20 to 25 percent interest, which was the market rate.

David agreed to offer loans with a monthly interest rate of 15 percent.  David would provide the capital sum and keep a running record of borrowers and sums borrowed while Valino liaised with borrowers.

They also agreed that David would keep two thirds of the interest earned, or 10 percent of the loan sum, while Valino kept a third, or 5 percent of the loan sum.

They had other detailed agreements on the amounts of loans, which would be repaid on a monthly basis.

They ran the unlicensed money-lending business from late 2016 until they were arrested in September 2019, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Kang Jia Hui.

On 3 September 2019, one of the maids made a police report, saying she had taken a loan from Valino and had to pay various sums which she felt was “too much.”

The maid also said she had received complaints from other Filipino friends that Valino was asking them to pay “a lot of money for their respective loans.”

Valinno was arrested on 17 September 2019 and David later that day.

A sum of S$2,500 was recovered from the bedroom the two women shared. David had used most of the earnings as capital for new loans that were extended to the maids.

The maids borrowed amounts between S$500 (about P18,700) and S$2,500 (about P93,500) and drew monthly salaries between S$600 (about P22,400) and S$675 (about P25,000).

The penalties for carrying on an unlicensed money-lending business in Singapore are a maximum jail term of four years and a fine between S$30,000 and S$300,000. Male offenders can also be given caning. (Channel News Asia)



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