The Central Crime Branch sleuths have uncovered a racket in which a Bengaluru loan shark was charging exorbitant rates of interest for money lent to Nigerian nationals and took their passports as surety.
Police have recovered 341 passports, 83 residential permits, 155 mobile phones, 93 laptops, four motorcycles, seven cars and Rs 34 lakh after arrested the 45-year-old financier, Muniraj Bayanna on Thursday.
Muniraj, a resident of St. Thomas Town in Karachanahalli in the city, used to lend money to foreign nationals, mostly Nigerians, after getting them to pledge their passports.
The police suspect that he was involved in smuggling drugs into the city.
â€śMuniraj preferred to lend money to foreign nationals as they were not aware of Indian laws and the RBIâ€™s cap on interest rates. He took their passports to ensure that they would not be able to leave the country,â€ť Additional Commissioner of Police, S Ravi said.
The 45-year-old- financier banked on the fact that these foreign nationals were vulnerable and would pay the high interest rate he charged.
Muniraj also levied a penalty fee and compounded the interest on the loans.
A Nigerian national tipped off the police when Muniraj refused to return his passport even after the man had repaid the loan.
The loan shark is well known among foreign nationals living in the north and north eastern part of Bengaluru.
He visited pubs frequented by these foreign students and offered money to those who were in need and would also pay their bills at these pubs.
Besides charging high interest rate, the usurer levied penal fee and compound interest.
Additional commissioner of police (crime) S Ravi said they will investigate whether Muniraj was involved in other illegal activities like drug peddling.
â€śLooking at the number of passports he had on him, we suspect that he was involved is other rackets as well,â€ť he said.