A loan sharking syndicate that lent HK$10 million to Filipino domestic helpers in Hong Kong at interest rates of up to 120 per cent a year has been broken by police following the arrest of two suspected ringleaders and eight members.
Initial investigations showed that from March to October last year, about 1,200 domestic helpers borrowed money from the syndicate that is thought to have been run by a Hong Kong couple, according to police.
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"The loan amount was between HK$4,000 and HK$15,000 each. The debtors were required to surrender their passports and employment contracts as security," Superintendent Chan Hon-ming of the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau said on Tuesday.
He said borrowers had to pay 10 per cent of the loan amount as monthly interest, with the annual interest rate reaching up to 120 per cent, which is well above the legal limit of 60 per cent.
"Passports and employment contracts would be returned to the debtors if they could settle their loan by making a one-off payment," he said.
He said the syndicate could pocket as much as HK$12 million in profit through such illegal loans.