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Debt collector jailed for raising ruckus at Funan food court

SINGAPORE — A debt collector who had harassed a food court employee at Funan DigitaLife Mall was sentenced to four years and two months’ jail on Thursday (Nov 16) for wide-ranging offences including harassment and driving without a licence.

SINGAPORE — A debt collector who had harassed a food court employee at Funan DigitaLife Mall was sentenced to four years and two months’ jail on Thursday (Nov 16) for wide-ranging offences including harassment and driving without a licence.

Francis Lee Sian Sian, 40, who worked at Double Ace Associates, was also fined S$10,000.

Lee pleaded guilty to 19 of the 48 charges he faced, with another 26 charges taken into consideration for sentencing.

He was given a discharge amounting to an acquittal for two offences relating to causing hurt and committing robbery, as there was insufficient evidence. A final count of rioting has yet to be dealt with, as Lee plans to contest it.

In January 2015, Lee and five accomplices had gone to the food court at Funan to recover a S$21,000 debt from a stall owner. As the owner was not present, they proceeded to harass the cashier and disrupt business by turning off the lights and chasing potential customers away.

Even the presence of security guards and police officers did not deter them. They were audacious enough to ask the police to help them with debt collection and later unfurled a banner stating ‘Debt recovery in process’ in front of the stall. They also pushed the cash register and swept food items and utensils onto the floor.

After leaving Funan, the group harassed another debtor, the owner of a car rental company at Race Course Road.

Again, the banner was used and customers were chased away.

Police were called and, as they stood outside the office interviewing witnesses, Lee gave the owner’s wife a form to sign, which would allow the debt collectors to cart away office equipment.

She tore up the form and he retaliated by using his elbow and forearm to hit her face, fracturing her nose as a result.

In another instance in August last year, Lee was unhappy that a National Environment Agency (NEA) officer wanted to confront him for throwing a cigarette butt at a carpark near Clemenceau Avenue North. As the officer stood in the front of his car to flash his NEA pass, Lee stepped on the accelerator and drove his Toyota Altis into the officer. The officer clung on to the car’s bonnet, as Lee continued driving towards the exit. The officer lost his grip and fell onto the ground near the carpark exit - after about 146 metres.

At that time, Lee was without a driver’s licence as he had been issued a lifetime ban from driving in 2007.

The prosecution said Lee had demonstrated a flagrant disregard for authority in driving off to evade law enforcement action without stopping to help the officer.

The thuggish behaviour that he exhibited in debt recovery was “more commonly associated with the depiction of gangsters in television dramas”, it added.

Harassment, vandalism or violence should not be used in the recovery of loans, it said. “(These are) the very things that we try to avoid from unlicensed moneylenders.”

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