By Jason Pan / Staff Reporter
The National Immigration Agency (NIA) has searched and questioned five people in connection with an alleged loan sharking operation targeting Indonesian migrant workers, it said yesterday.
The agency said in a statement that a Taiwanese man surnamed Yang (楊) allegedly colluded with a Chinese-Indonesian woman surnamed Huang (黃) to run the loan shark business from 2020.
They are believed to have made illegal profits totaling several million New Taiwan dollars by lending money to migrant workers at high interest rates, he said.
Photo courtesy of NIA Chiayi County Specialized Operations Brigade
The raids were carried out last week by the agency’s Chiayi County Specialized Operations Brigade.
Five people have been summoned for their alleged involvement in the operations – Yang, her two daughters, Huang and her husband – the agency said.
Materials uncovered in the raids included NT$7 million ($246,453) in cash, cellphones, receipts, account books and money transfer records, Brigade Vice-Captain Lai Shu said. -yi (賴淑怡).
Squad members also found 342 Indonesian passports, which likely belong to the victims, as loan sharks allegedly confiscated the passports of debtors who could not repay their loans, Lai said.
Seized documents and transaction records suggest more than 700 Indonesians working in Taiwan have borrowed money from Yang and Huang in the past two years, Lai added.
The five face pending charges for alleged violations of the Banking Law (銀行法) and operating an illegal banking and moneylending business, as well as the offense of “charging interest rates usurious when they lend money to take advantage of the urgent needs of individuals”. stipulated by Article 344 of the Penal Code, Lai said.
Yang and Huang allegedly used social media ads saying “money lending is easy” in Bahasa Indonesia to target migrant workers in need of money, Lai said.
One of the advertisements allegedly promoted a loan of NT$20,000 which would be approved quickly, with an interest payment of NT$6,000 and a processing fee of NT$1,000 each month, which translates into an annual interest rate of around 120-152%, much higher. than the 9% charged by private credit companies and the 3% annual interest charged by banks, Lai said.
“This loan sharking operation took advantage of the problems and barriers faced by migrant workers, such as the inability to understand Mandarin or read official documents, lack of legal status and inability to deal with Taiwanese banks… When they have needs, they resort to lending operations known to their Indonesian compatriots,” Lai said.
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