Consumer group accused of profiteering from loan shark victims

PPIM has urged victims of illegal money lenders to approach the group for help. (Facebook pic)

PETALING JAYA: A consumer body has been charging loan shark victims for its services to help them emerge from their debt, former staff have alleged.

Syed Alwi Al Hadad Syed Mustaffa said the Malaysian Muslim Consumers Association (PPIM) charges 10% apart from other additional charges on victims of loan sharks who approach the group to seek protection and help in settling outstanding payments owed to loan sharks, or ah long.

Citing confidential files, Syed Alwi said there were times when victims were made to pay more than what they owed the ah long.

He gave the example of a woman who owed RM350,000 to 64 loan sharks, with an additional RM35,000 in “administration fees”.

However, he said PPIM had negotiated a RM160,000 settlement with the loan sharks.

“This was despite the woman already paying RM250,000 involving 64 ah longs. The payment to the ah longs should have been settled, but this was not the case and she continued to be harassed,” Syed Alwi, among four former PPIM employees, was quoted as saying by Sinar Harian in a press conference yesterday.

“This is a hidden injustice and should not be ignored.”

Last week, a woman who had approached PPIM to handle her case with loan sharks accused the body of not acknowledging some RM250,000 in four payments she had made as settlement to the lenders.

She said PPIM had only paid RM90,000 to the loan sharks.

“So where did the balance of RM160,000 go? Meanwhile, I am being harassed by many ah longs,” she told reporters outside the PPIM office.

PPIM, under its so-called Special Action Unit or UTK, has in the past warned ah longs against harassing borrowers who fail to make repayments on time.

Last year, PPIM chief Nadzim Johan said the unit had received some 40,000 complaints involving 64,000 loan sharks, and urged the public to approach the group for help.

On Monday, the unit’s director Yusuf Azmi lodged a police report against Syed Alwi and three others, accusing them of stealing critical files on loan sharks from PPIM’s office.

But Syed Alwi said the files were not stolen and were still in the office.

Another former PPIM employee said he had evidence to show that the body was profiteering from the plight of victims.

“I am prepared to cooperate with police because I have not done anything wrong,” Muhammad Fadhrul was quoted as saying in the same press conference.