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3 Arrested In Raid On Loan-shark Business

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CRACKDOWN ON CRIME: 3 arrested in raid on loan-shark business

Police act on complaints sent to PM's website that firm was charging 60% interest a month

Police raided the offices of an alleged loan-shark firm yesterday in response to complaints sent to the prime minister's website that the firm was harassing its debtors and charging them 60-per-cent interest on their loans.

Somkid Phassornprasit, chief of Muang district police, and Surin Muansamrit, his deputy, led the raid.

The police arrested three men during the raid on the Phitsanulok Quick Cash office building. The men said they knew nothing about the loan-shark business and were merely watching over the place.

They were identified as Jessadapong Pholdee, 19, Wichian Saenkhan, 26, and Somnuek Saenthaweesuk, 30.

They claimed to know the manager of the firm only by the nickname "Ek". The manager was not at the office when the raid took place.

Investigators found that the company's money was lodged several times a day in a Pattaya branch of Thai Farmers Bank under the name of Narong Kasommai. Police are currently on the lookout for Narong.

Somkid sad the raid was ordered by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who received complaints about the firm through his website - rakang.thaigov.go.th.

The complaints said the firm had been collecting interest rates of 60 per cent per month, or 2 per cent per day.

The disgruntled debtors claimed the loan-shark firm sent agents to intimidate them. Several people had to leave the province because they could no longer pay the high interest rates.

Somkid said the authorities found that the firm had 23 other branches in major provinces, including Chon Buri, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima and Chiang Mai.

A search of the office uncovered records of over 100 customers who had borrowed Bt5 million between them.

The records showed that the customers were paying interest at the rate of 2 per cent per day. Police also found Bt15,000 in cash.

During the search, a 36-year-old food vendor called Pairat Tatiya entered the office to make a repayment to the company.

Police detained her for questioning.

She said she borrowed Bt35,000 from the firm at the recommendation of a friend, and ended up paying Bt700 a day in interest.

Somkid said the firm and its employees would face several charges relating to the Criminal and Civil codes, including fraud and using force to intimidate people.

-- The Nation PHITSANULOK 2003-12-12

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