Teen charged for setting fire to flat in alleged loanshark harassment act

Wan Ting Koh

A teen who allegedly set fire to a flat in an act related to unlicensed moneylending, causing hurt to another resident who tried to put out the fire, was charged in court on Friday (10 August).

Singaporean Lu Ming Duo, 19, was charged under the Unlicensed Moneylenders Act with one count of unlicensed moneylending harassment by setting fire, causing hurt and damage.

On Wednesday (8 August), around 5pm, Lu is said to have set fire to a flat on the sixth floor of block 401 Jurong West Street 42 by throwing a bottle of thinner at the flat’s door, causing it to catch fire.

According to court documents, Lu committed the act on behalf of a loanshark known only as “Sunny”, and likely was done to cause annoyance to the occupant of the flat, who is apparently related to the debtor.

Upon sensing the fire, Chua Kim Leng, 51, who lives in the flat above, tried to put out the flames. In attempting to do so, he burned his hands before running downstairs to escape the blaze. He was conveyed to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital for his injuries.

The police were alerted to the incident at about 5.17pm.

Lu, who received his charge via video on Friday, was unrepresented. The bespectacled teen was dressed in a white shirt and had his hands cuffed.

The prosecution applied to keep Lu in remand for a week for further investigations, involving tracing the unlicensed moneylending syndicate.

Lu will next appear in court on 17 August. The charge he faces carries a maximum jail term of five years and a fine of between $5,000 and $50,000. If convicted, Lu may also be caned between six and 12 strokes.

In a statement, the police said: “The police have zero tolerance against loanshark harassment activities involving fire. Those who commit such acts of harassment, causing damage and endangering lives of innocent victims will be arrested and dealt with severely in accordance with the law.”

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