Sat, Sep 15, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Police arrest student over money-lending operation

By Tsai Shu-yuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Police in Taichung County arrested a graduate student on Wednesday on suspicion of running an illegal money-lending operation and using violence to collect debts.

Two other men were also arrested along with Hsieh Tsung-chen (謝宗宸), 28, a student in the Graduate Institute of Business Administration at Asia University in Wufeng.

Hsieh is suspected of having set up the money lending operation and recruiting two former schoolmates -- Liao Yu-wei (廖育蔚), 25, and Chen Shang-wei (陳尚偉), 28 -- as debt collectors. Liao is a student at Chaoyang University of Technology also in Wufeng.

Hsieh allegedly attracted business through newspaper advertisements, publishing a series of ads in the name of "Mr Wang" offering small loans to clients at very high interest rates. According to police, at least 100 victims borrowed money from him and were forced to pay back much more.

A retired lieutenant colonel, also surnamed Wang (王), said he borrowed NT$30,000 from Hsieh in 2005 and had to pay NT$6,000 in interest every 10 days , with the annual interest reaching 730 percent.

Wang told the police that Hsieh and his assistants forced him to withdraw all his retirement money when it was sent to his account by the military every six months. Wang also said they beat him in public at his beef noodle shop, eventually forcing the shop to shut down.

After paying them NT$1.5 million over the past three years, Wang was still in debt.

He told the police that he had tried to commit suicide in a park in Taichung City two months ago, but was saved by a local resident.

Hsieh was arrested in April, but allegedly continued his operation after being freed on bail.

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