A Singapore permanent resident has been sentenced to 44 months in jail and fined S$450,000 after he was found guilty of operating an illegal moneylending business that target a vulnerable Filipino maids.

In a report by AsiaOne, K. Ramakrishna Kannusamy, 47, kept the passports of Filipino maids as loan collateral as he made about S$100,000 in profits between 2014 and 2015 by charging interest rates of between 10 and 20 per cent.

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The defendant admitted to 15 charges of illegal moneylending, five charges under the Passport Act and one charge under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act.

Out of a total of 181 charges, the majority of them, including 89 charges under Moneylenders Act were taken into consideration for sentencing.

In handing out the sentence against Kannusamy, District Judge Salina Ishak ordered the sentences for six of the charges to run consecutively, “to accurately reflect the accused’s overall culpability and the number of charges he faced, after a careful consideration of the aggravating factors”.

Kannusamy, began his illegal businesss in 2009 when he entered into a relationship with a Filipina named Mary Jane. He exploited the situation faced by many Filipinas in Singapore working as household service workers who cannot obtain loans through legitimate sources.

Mary Jane, who worked as a maid, introduced the defendant to many of her friends who had financial problems. He soon expanded his operations as the number of maids who availed of his loan offers increased.

Kannusamy admitted there were about 76 debtors when he was nabbed. All but one were Filipinos, who included a 41-year-old dental nurse who borrowed S$2,500 last year on a 20 per cent monthly interest and gave her passport as loan collateral.

Besides the extortionate interest rates, he charged a surcharge of S$10 per day for late payments.

The defendant’s lawyer A. Revi Shanker urged the court to give him a “second chance”, pleading that he was “sincerely remorseful”.

However, the judge found “nothing exceptional” in Kannusamy’s personal circumstances to justify a sentence discount. His 44-month jail sentence was backdated to February 12, when he was put to jail at Changi Prison. Judge Ishak also imposed on Kannusamy S$30,000 fine for each of the 15 moneylending charges. Another 15 months extension in jail would be slapped against the defendant if he defaults on the S$450,000 fine.