PETALING JAYA: Two Datuks are among four prominent Johor businessmen believed to be heading a well-organised loan sharking syndicate with operations in the southern and central regions of the peninsula.
Their identities came to light after police here arrested 16 of their “field workers” in the past week.
Police sources said they have ascertained the whereabouts of the Datuks but were gathering more evidence before arresting them.
The sources said the syndicate operated like a financial institution, with a multi-tiered system controlled by area managers and supervisors who oversee workers who disbursed loans and collected payment.
Sources said they believed that the “staff strength” of the syndicate could be well over 100 people.
State CID chief Senior Ass Comm (II) Abu Bakar Mustafa confirmed the arrests.
Police here have so far identified 10 areas in the Klang Valley where the syndicate is operating.
They are Puchong, Subang Jaya, Sungei Way, Cheras, Kepong, Kuchai Lama, Sungei Besi, Serdang, Desa Petaling and Sri Petaling.
Each area is headed by an area manager who approves the loans.
Below him are several supervisors who oversee the debt collection activities, which include the use of strong-arm tactics.
Sources said initial investigations showed that the syndicate is based in Johor where they have a similar operation.
“The probe is now on to establish if they have operations in other states.
“This syndicate is one of the biggest loan sharking groups in the country,” said a source.
The 16 workers were arrested in Puchong and Sungei Way here.
The first 10 men were nabbed in Taman Kandan Baru on Tuesday after a 73-year-old man lodged a report alleging that several loan sharks had threated to burn him alive.
The loan sharks got nasty when the man refused to reveal the whereabouts of his welder son who had borrowed RM30,000 from them.
In a follow-up operation on Sunday, police picked up another six men, aged between 20 and 28, from a condominium in Sungei Way.
The police then raided several other premises in Cheras, Sri Petaling and Desa Petaling looking for the area managers and supervisors but the occupants had fled.
SAC Abu Bakar said his officers also seized an undisclosed number of personal and company documents belonging to borrowers at the condominium in Sungei Way.
Last Friday, CID Director Comm Datuk Musa Hassan directed all police contingents to eradicate loan sharking activities in the country.
His directive came after a call by Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Noh Omar, urging police to investigate allegations that several “prominent individuals” were behind money-lending activities in the country.