Despite the activity being illegal Malaysians plan to bet on the World Cup 2014 in large numbers. Loans sharks are stepping in to provide credit, but string are attached.
News services and anti-crime watchdogs in Malaysia have issued warnings that loan sharks are making available large credit lines at exorbitant interest rates in advance of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, despite restrictive Malaysian gambling laws.
While members of the country’s Muslim majority are prohibited from gambling or betting on sports the activity remains immensely popular. Bettors place wagers with underground bookmakers as well as unlicensed and foreign-operated online and mobile betting sites.
Ah Long driving a hard bargain
Complaints Bureau Chairman Wilson Lau Hoi Keong claimed that the number of people seeking loans from Ah Long (loan sharks) is currently up 50 percent from “normal times,” allegedly due to the looming World Cup.
Loan sharks are stepping in take advantage of the demand for credit. The newspaper Kosmo! reported that loans of up to 500,000 Malaysian ringgit (roughly $150,000) are being extended at interest rates between 30 and 45 percent.
It also reported that borrowers are being required to put up large items such as cars and houses as collateral. Hoi Keong recalled that after the 2010 World Cup there were eight cases of high-profile borrowers failing to repay loans of up to 2 million ringgit.