Tuesday, August 2, 2011

S$130,000 for illegal moneylending activities

channelnewsasia.com---A Filipino maid wanted to help her employer who hired her despite her epilepsy and who also paid for her medical bills.

28-year-old, Melanie Jacalan Munar, agreed to help her employer, Koh Suat Lay, run an illegal money-lending business between early 2008 and November last year. Together, they gave out loans totalling more than S$3,000 to four Filipino women, with interest rates of up to 50 per cent.

Munar was sentenced Tuesday to three months' jail and fined S$130,000 after pleading guilty to five out of seven charges.

Because she was not able to pay the fine, she will be jailed an additional three weeks and six days. This is believed to be the first case where an employer-employee pair was hauled to court on illegal moneylending charges.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Lim Jian Yi told the court that Koh came up with the plan to offer loans after finding out that Munar's friends were often in need of money.

DPP Lim said that she asked her maid to scout around for clients and the maid agreed. Munar's friends would approach her whenever they had financial problems, and she would then relay their requests to her employer.

After they agreed on the interest rate and period of repayment, Munar was tasked to hand over the cash to the debtors and collect repayments from them. In mitigation, Munar's lawyer, Mr Adrian Chong told the court that his client did not harass the debtors when they defaulted on their repayments.

Forty-seven-year-old Koh was charged in court in January and her case is currently at the pre-trial conference stage.

Earlier this year, a 68-year-old Singaporean man was jailed and fined after working with four Filipino maids, who were not his employees, to commit a similar offence.

All five were convicted and were sentenced to between three months' and two years' jail.

They also had to pay fines of up to S$150,000 each.

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