HK Police Bust Loan Shark Business, Recovers Over 400 Philippine Passports

A Hong Kong man and his Filipina helper was arrested as Hong Kong authorities busted a loan shark operation, and seized more than 400 Philippine passports in the raid in August 13, an official from the Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong said.

The passports were apparently used as collateral for loans by cash-strapped Filipino workers who obtained cash from a 65-year-old suspect surnamed Chung.

The helper was also arrested when police operatives searched Chung’s flat in North Point for acting as accessory to the illegal business. According to a police spokesman, both Chung and his helper were allowe to post bail but were ordered to report back to police in September.

In an interview, Consul Paulo Saret, who heads the Assistance to Nationals section, said a total of 404 passports were recovered during the police operation.

The recovery of hundreds of passports came after a similar operation was conducted in Tsuen Wan on July 4 that led to the arrest of a 64-year-old man and recovery of about 850 passports, most of which are from Indonesian domestic workers.

Saret said investigators of the North Point case had requested the ATN for contact details of the passport holders so officers could call and ask them to give police statements. He urged the passport holders to cooperate when the police call them.

Saret reminded OFWs that they are in Hong Kong to work, not to lend nor borrow money.

“Huwag mangutang, huwag naman magpautang, kasi yung iba nagpapautang. Kapag hindi na mabayaran, problemado na, mag-aaway na sila nung nangutang,” Saret said.

He likewise advised workers not to use their passports as loan collateral.

“Hindi iyan ang solusyon, madudoble o matitriple ang problema mo once na isinangla mo na ang passport mo. Yung interest mo, 120% per annum. Paano mo mababayaran iyon? At pagdating ng oras, hindi ka maiisyuhan ng passport basta-basta,” he said.

Police said Chung was arrested at the corner of King’s Road and Shu Kuk St by officers from the Regional Anti-Triad Unit of Hong Kong Island while lending money to two Filipino women aged 29 and 37. At 120% annual interest rate, Chung’s operations is twice the legal limit of 60%, and collected passports and employment contracts as collateral.

Aside from the passports, HK$100,000 cash, a laptop computer and two mobile phones, officers seized records of Chung’s illegal transactions.