HE WAS hired in Taiwan two months ago and promised $3,600 a month to harass debtors here for a loan shark syndicate. But Wu Ting-Yi was arrested before he could get started.

The 29-year-old Taiwanese was jailed for seven months yesterday by a district court for conspiring to commit acts of harassment for an unknown illegal moneylending syndicate. He could have been jailed for up to five years and fined up to $50,000.

According to court documents, Wu, who was unemployed, was recruited in Kaohsiung, a city in south-west Taiwan, by a syndicate member known only as Xiao Su.

He was told that his air ticket to Singapore and accommodation here would be paid for and that his job was to deface walls and lock debtors with outstanding loans inside their homes.

For this, he would be paid $3,600 a month. If arrested, he would receive $900 in compensation for every month he served in jail and an additional $3,600 if he was caned.

He then flew down with another Taiwanese, Chen Ci Fan, on Aug 20 this year, after both were granted month-long social visit passes.

Wu was arrested on Aug 22, in a carpark in Hamilton Road near Lavender MRT station, before he even got started.

He has been in remand since.

The court was told that Chen, 30, had also been arrested and that his case would be heard later this month. Xiao Su, who is also Taiwanese, is on the run.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Sherlyn Neo told the court that at least eight foreigners, including Wu, have been involved in illegal moneylending activities in recent times.

Lawyer S. S. Dhillon told The Straits Times that more Singaporeans, aware of stiffer sentences for such offences, are becoming harder to recruit, so syndicates turn to foreigners.

Taiwanese hired to harass debtors